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Masters: 5 things to watch in first round


The 81st Masters commences at 8 a.m., having drawn a field of 94 from 22 countries. Here are the tee times and five things to look for in the tournament’s first day:

1. Weather: The most formidable performer will be the wind (here’s a look at today’s forecast). Wednesday’s storms, which twice cleared the grounds, ushered in 20-to-30 mph winds out of the west, gusting to as high as 40 mph. Augusta National is tough enough when it’s calm.

2. Arnie: The honorary starter ceremony will be a different thing without Arnold Palmer, who died last September. Every patron on hand Thursday will be presented an “Arnie’s Army” badge, commemorating Palmer’s relationship with the Masters, which began in 1955.

3. In search of: Dustin Johnson will be after his fourth straight victory, having won the Genesis (L.A.) Open, the WGC Mexico championship and the WGC Match Play championship. Rory McIlroy will seek to complete a career Grand Slam, having already won the British Open (2014), U.S. Open (2011) and PGA Championship (2011). Jordan Spieth will be seeking to retame the course he had dominated last year until the 66th hole, when a quadruple-bogey made a defending champion into a runner-up.

4. Rookie to watch: Tommy Fleetwood, a solid European Tour veteran, beat Dustin Johnson for the Abu Dhabi Championship and enters the Masters No. 32 in the world rankings.

5. Most interesting pairing: The Masters does it every year, pairing up the reigning champion (Danny Willett) with the current U.S. Amateur champion (Curtis Luck). Georgia Tech great Matt Kuchar makes three.

Hear the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and Steve Hummer and WSB’s Jay Black preview the tournament:



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