Johnson ready to step up for Masters challenge

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They had a pretty good idea who it was.

"I don't think there's one clear-cut favorite", said Woods, who is vying to pull off a comeback that would rate among the greatest in sport.

Woods is part of one of the earlier tee-times.

Bryan is in Thursday's first group and will tee off at 8 a.m. Some of them rushed over to the third hole to stake out a spot. "I did everything well previous year".

About the only thing missing was a beam of light from the heavens. Obviously when Tiger walked onto the range (Monday), you can tell there's an anticipation and an excitement from the crowd to watch him compete again. If the pain in his lower back wasn't enough, it was looking out at the course he loves and knowing that he wouldn't be playing the major he calls a "players' heaven" for the second straight year, and maybe never.

And now it looks as though he never left.

Bryan, the former Dutch Fork and USC golfer who is playing in his first Masters starting Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club, participated in the iconic Par 3 tournament along with Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. The fact that he was even in position at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to make a Sunday charge says it all. The 14-time major champion has looked phenomenal during his return from spinal-fusion surgery and is fully healthy entering the year's first major for the first time since 2013.

This would cement Spieth's status as the new king of Augusta and as the most important player of the post-Tiger era, as he would tie McIlroy's career total of four majors...with all of them coming since Rory won his last one.

The young guys have heard about that.

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"I think the jury's still out on him", Harmon said.

"I'm an avid fan of the history of the game and I know a win here would put me alongside some of the greatest to have ever played this game and that would mean an bad lot to me but I have to try to clear my head of that come Thursday morning", he told reporters. You know, it's just like any other golf tournament: "You play four good rounds of golf, and you end up winning".

Her now-fiancé proposed to her during one the practice rounds to make sure his family could get pictures of the event.

But she won't get a green jacket. Rose badly wants one, especially after missing a short par putt on the 17th hole and losing in a playoff past year. "So I just think the competition's getting really, really tough, and it just adds a little bit more flavor that Phil and Tiger are playing tremendous golf as well".

But when it comes to star power, collectively they don't match the impact of Woods. Sadly, despite his obvious talents, he suffered most because his career virtually coincided with Tiger's; some of Tiger's victories would surely have come his way were Tiger not there.

"Everyone's kind of exclusively focused on Tiger and what he's going to do here and seeing if he can get to No 15", said the former world No. 1. But that's fine with us. "That's fine with me".

Day believes it can only help him, McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and many others not get caught up in the hoopla and go about trying to get into contention.

"I made big strides in the last two weeks to get from kind of a panic place to a very calm, collected and confident place", Spieth said two days before the Masters.

"I saw his bag outside the clubhouse", Sharma said with a smile. I wouldn't want it any other way.

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