Three of the last four winners on the PGA TOUR are from Australia. Each played his way into the Masters with victory and is now rewarded with the bonus of experiencing life inside the ropes for the first edition in which a fellow countryman defends.
John Senden (Valspar Championship) was trailed by first-time winners Steven Bowditch (Valero Texas Open) and Matt Jones (Shell Houston Open). Along with fellow Aussie Jason Day (World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship), they represent all of the international champions in 2013-14. Toss is Marc Leishman, who shared fourth place at Augusta National Golf Club last year, and reigning Masters champion Adam Scott arrives fortified with charges from the world's smallest continent chasing consecutive titles in the season's first major.
What this sextet from Down Under -- 2013 U.S. Amateur runner-up Oliver Goss bumps Australia's contingent to seven -- will be preparing to play is the hardest par 72 on last year's PGA TOUR at 73.412. Capable of stretching 7,435 yards, Augusta National is largely considered a second-shot track on which length doesn't hurt. Scott placed a pedestrian T35 in par-5 scoring average, preferring small ball. He led the field in greens in regulation and ranked third in scrambling. He also co-led in par-4 scoring.
Augusta National averaged 286.6 yards off the tee in 2013. That wouldn't be notable other than that's its longest split since data was collected for the first time in 2002. Conversely and predictably, the field's driving accuracy landed at a six-year low at 65.00 percent. Otherwise, this week's field of 97 -- Tiger Woods is the only regular qualifier not competing -- will be facing precisely what the experienced will expect. Hitting greens is paramount (60.25 percent in 2013; 10th-lowest on the PGA TOUR); scrambling is challenging (50.82 percent; fourth); and penciling in pars on the par 3s (3.19; fourth) and par 4s (4.19; third) is sufficient. Those with working knowledge of the undulating greens are usually separated from those making their debut. It's the primary practical reason why the last first-timer to wear a green jacket was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
Dangerous weather shut everything down midday on Monday, but the forecast for the tournament proper is borderline perfect. There is zero rain expected, temperatures will gradually rise into the low 80s by Sunday and winds will be occasionally moderate at worst.
Power Rankings: The Masters
1 Adam Scott 2 Jason Day 3 Sergio Garcia 4 Rory McIlroy 5 Phil Mickelson 6 Bubba Watson 7 Charl Schwartzel 8 Zach Johnson 9 Justin Rose 10 Graeme McDowell 11 Brandt Snedeker 12 Jason Dufner 13 Hunter Mahan 14 Matt Kuchar 15 Dustin Johnson 16 Gary Woodland 17 Bill Haas 18 Jimmy Walker 19 Lee Westwood 20 Patrick Reed