The old guys are back at Augusta National.
After 24-year-old Jordan Spieth stole all the Masters headlines for three years and a year on the PGA Tour dominated by the game's young bucks, 38-year-old Sergio Garcia comes to this year's tournament as the defending champion with plenty of backup from his own generation.
"There's always a good mix of young and old that come around, and at the end of the year, obviously the youngsters are coming out strong, but it doesn't mean that us, the more experienced ones, we can still play the game and we can still do some good things," Garcia said.
That's what everyone is hoping for. As Garcia searches for his second major championship, Tiger Woods finally looks like he's ready to compete for his 15th.
"We all know what kind of player he is and what kind of player he can be when he's healthy," Garcia said. "Doesn't look like he's swinging with any pain. I'm sure he's excited to come back to Augusta, and it's a place where he's done well, so I would expect him to do fairly well, but I don't know how well, you know, because it's also been a while since he's been there, and he will probably be a little bit nervous, too, which is normal. He's just got to deal with all those feelings again, I guess."
Woods, 42, who has won the Masters four times, has finished in the top 12 of each of his past three events.
"There's a lot to look forward to, starting with a couple of the elderly gentlemen in Tiger and Phil, the fact that Phil won, Tiger has shown that he looks like he's back to performing at a level that he can definitely compete there," ESPN's Andy North said. "Then you add in the group of the younger crew that have carried the Tour the last three or four years, they're all playing well, have won lately, other than Jordan (Spieth). But yet he's been the guy who has played Augusta National better than anybody over the last three or four years, and then you throw in kind of a wild card in Bubba (Watson) winning two of his last four starts, coming into one of his favorite courses of the year."
Phil Mickelson, 47, has a victory this year and has finished in the top 10 three times since February. Rory McIlroy, a veteran despite being just 28, is coming off an 18-under that won him the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago and is looking to complete a career grand slam this week.
"You've got a handful of players that are playing exceptionally well, and the star power, the guys that you hope will be there on Sunday, so I think we're in for a fantastic week of golf," North said.
That's what Garcia had last year. He shot 9-under and outdueled Justin Rose on Sunday to win his first major. He has followed that up with the birth of his first child earlier this month. Garcia conducted his Masters champion teleconference recently in the hospital in Austin, Texas, as his wife Angela was in labor. Azalea Adele Garcia was born shortly after.
That's just one of the ways Garcia's life has changed since winning the Masters.
"You know, I didn't know what to expect," Garcia said. "Obviously, it's something that until it happens, you don't know what it's going to feel like and what it's going to do to you. You know how big the Masters is, but when you win it, you realize how much bigger it is all over the world. It's definitely gotten where, yeah, people recognize me a little bit more all over the place outside of the golf course, and also, there's more interest in me. It's been a lot of fun."
This week should be, too.
This article is written by Josh Kendall from The State and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCredpublisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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