Masters special in prospect as Day tops stellar cast

Wed Apr 6, 2016 5:02pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - The 80th Masters, which starts on Thursday, shapes up as one of the best in recent memory with world number one Jason Day heading a list of high-profile players in superb form over the past three months.

Day is widely regarded as the pre-tournament favorite, having won six times in his last 13 starts, and the long-hitting Australian will be difficult to beat at Augusta National where he tied for second in 2011 and placed third in 2013.

However, he will have to contend with several other top players who have tasted success in recent weeks and Day has been quick to play down any suggestion that he is the favorite.

"To be honest, I don't think I'm the favorite this week," said Day. "There's a lot of people out there that can play well this week and win. Jordan (Spieth) and Rory (McIlroy) and Henrik (Stenson) ... even Phil (Mickelson) is a favorite here.

"There's not just one heavy favorite this week, which is fantastic. I think it's good for the game of golf and I think it's good for this tournament as well. I'm excited about the week."

Day's fellow Australian Adam Scott has already triumphed twice on the 2015-16 PGA Tour while American world number two Spieth, the reigning Masters champion, won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January.

Fourth-ranked Bubba Watson, a double winner at Augusta National, clinched the Northern Trust Open in February and his good friend, fifth-ranked fellow American Rickie Fowler, won the European Tour's Abu Dhabi Championship in January.

World number three McIlroy is the only player ranked in the top six who has not claimed at least one tournament win so far this year, though he came close with a tie for third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami last month.   Continued...

Apr 6, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Jason Day chips onto the 4th green during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports