There will be a number of notable absentees when the best players in the world tee off at Augusta National on Thursday, while four South Africans will be in action. ANDRE HUISAMEN takes a look at the 2021 Masters field.
The third Rahm
First and foremost, world No 3 Jon Rahm WILL indeed compete at this year’s edition of the Green Jacket after announcing the birth of his son this past Sunday.
The Spaniard warned that he could be forced to leave the Masters midway if his wife were to go into labour.
Instead, the Rahm family welcomed their newest addition just in time for the 26-year-old to make an attempt at bagging his first Major triumph.
After a few weeks’ speculation, Rickie Fowler will miss his first Major in 42 attempts and his first Masters in 11 years. A poor run of form has had the American slump to his lowest world ranking (95th) since 2010, as of Monday.
Fowler needed a win at this past weekend’s Valero Texas Open as a final resort to earn qualification for this year’s Masters. While his good friend Jordan Spieth headed for the top, Fowler had to settle for T17, his best finish on the PGA Tour all year.
The missing Tiger
Since suffering that horrific car accident on 23 February, it was all but expected that the five-time winner in Georgia will not be able to compete, let alone play golf in general. Arguably the most famous figure throughout the history of the competition, Woods’ absence will certainly be noticed across the four rounds of action.
Players, spectators and golf lovers from around the world will carry him in their thoughts every time one of his great memories from Augusta National pops up this week. No Masters field will ever feel complete without Tiger Woods’ participation.
Off and on-field success for Brooks?
Brooks Koepka had a pretty epic few weeks. Not only did he fully recover from a recent knee surgery, the four-time Major champion and his longtime girlfriend announced over the weekend that they are engaged. On Sunday, Koepka arrived at Augusta National, enjoyed a range session and then hit the course.
It appears as if he is fully fit and ready to have another crack at the Masters without any further injury damage, hopefully.
South African contingent
Unfortunately neither Erik van Rooyen nor Branden Grace will be part of the Masters field. Similarly to Fowler and many other players that were in action this past weekend, victory at the Valero Texas Open was their last hope of securing qualification. As a result, only four South Africans will feature at Augusta from Thursday.
Louis Oosthuizen, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Dylan Frittelli and Charl Schwartzel will carry the SA flag in the hope of breaking the Major drought. It’s been nine years since a local player last won a Major (Ernie Els in 2012) and it’s exactly ten years since Schwartzel’s famous donning of the Green Jacket. The historic achievement has him back in the field as a past champion, despite his Official World Golf Ranking of 211.
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