Golf: Five Players to Watch at the 85th Masters

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Bryson DeChambeau of the United States hits his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on 12 November 2020.
Bryson DeChambeau of the United States hits his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on 12 November 2020.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Five Players to Watch at the 85th Masters tournament:

Dustin Johnson (USA)

Top-ranked defending champion captured his second major title last November in course record-shattering fashion, firing a 20-under-par 268 for a five-stroke victory. He was two strokes under the old mark set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015. Johnson won his other major crown at the 2016 US Open. But will his autumn magic translate into spring success and make him the first back-to-back Masters champion since Woods in 2001 and 2002?

Bryson DeChambeau (USA)

The fifth-ranked reigning US Open champion spoke of overpowering Augusta National last November, but complained of health issues and thus never seemed to have a fair test. But now he will face a course in its spring prime with lightning-fast greens. His long driving at all costs style won a major and last month's Arnold Palmer Invitational and he was third at The Players Championship. No matter how he fares, seeing what new challenges he brings to the Masters will bring attention.

Rory McIlroy (NIR)

The four-time major champion needs only a green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam but 11th-rannked McIlroy hasn't won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship. He shared fifth last November, his sixth top-10 showing at Augusta National in seven years. But he has been nagged by inconsistency and worked on swing changes with mixed results at best, chasing length after seeing Bryson DeChambeau's US Open victory. He led 10 years ago before a final-round collapse, then bounced back to win his next major, the US Open, for his first major crown.

Jon Rahm (ESP)

Watch the third-ranked Spaniard if you can. His wife is expecting their first child and Rahm has said he will leave to be with her for the birth, a situation similar to Phil Mickelson when he finished second at the 1999 US Open. Rahm has six top-10 finishes this season, including a share of seventh at last year's Masters and this January's Tournament of Champions and Torrey Pines events. He also shared fifth at Riviera in February and ninth at The Players Championship in March. Seeks his first major title. Has five top-10 major finishes, three at the Masters, including fourth in 2018 and level ninth in 2019.

Justin Thomas (USA)

Second-ranked Thomas won the 2017 PGA Championship for his only major title. He captured The Players Championship in March for his 14th career US PGA victory and at least one in every year starting in 2015. He was fourth in last year's Masters to continue to run of steady improvement in every Augusta National appearance, from sharing 39th to 22nd to 17th to 12th to his first top-10 effort. Not much room to keep that going without taking a green jacket.

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