Augusta opens up the Major season

Updated: April 3, 2012

The 76th Masters opens up golfs Major season this Thursday, as the worlds top 97 battle it out for the converted Green Jacket. Without question all eyes will be on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Woods a 4 times winner of the Masters is back in the top 10 and following his win at the Arnold Palmer invitational last week, Woods appears to be approaching his best form in years. There is little doubt the 14 times Major winner has more in him, however young Northern Irishman McIlroy has emerged over the last year as the new sensation in world golf. Who can forget his capitulation on the back nine in last years event, a Major he without question should have won. He put that behind him at the US Open when he won his first Major in emphatic style. Its an exciting prospect for golf fans and to have Woods back in the mix were he belongs adds extra spice.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel wont give up his title easily, and comes into Augusta in consistent form.

Others in the hunt for their first major title include World No 1 Luke Donald, third-ranked English compatriot Lee Westwood, top-ranked US players Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker and World No 9 Justin Rose of England.

The field of 97, fifth-largest in Masters history, includes 50 golfers from beyond US borders representing 18 nations. There are six amateurs and 15 first-time Masters players.