From Fred Couples to Jordan Spieth: Ranking the possible Masters championship storylines

Devil Ball Golf

It’s moving day at the Masters and there are still 36 holes of golf left to be played. Today’s leaderboard may look nothing like the one that’s left at Augusta National at the end of the day.

But if you look at it right now, there are plenty of tantalizing storylines for fans and sportswriters. Any of these would make for great moments on the 18th green come Sunday night, but we attempted to put the possible storylines in some sort of order.

With the full acknowledgement, of course, that someone we’re not even considering might make a two-day charge to crash the party. And that someone we list here might get cooked in the first few minutes of the third round by a first hole that’s playing incredibly tough this year.

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That’s the magic of the Masters.

1. Fred Couples or Phil Mickelson break Jack’s record: It’s been 31 years since Jack Nicklaus became the oldest winner of the Masters at age 46. Mickelson (E) would break the record by one year while an age-defying run by the 57-year-old Couples (-1) would obliterate it. Augusta’s slopes have a tendency to slow down the older set by the weekend — how many times has Couples done this in recent years only to fade by Saturday? — but golf fans will always hold out hope for their aging favorites. A Couples win would come on the 25th anniversary of his 1992 triumph.

2. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth duel down the stretch: This would be a dream matchup for golf fans, but it’s going to take some work for both. Spieth (E) officially earned the label of “lurker” with a strong finish to Friday’s second round and McIlroy sits a shot back at +1. A win by either would have a lot of significance when it comes to golfing history. Spieth’s win would be his second by age 23 while McIlroy’s would complete his career slam by age 27.

3. Sergio Garcia finally wins a major: Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Sergio getting a green jacket after years of heartbreak in majors would move the needle in the world of golf. The 37-year-old Spaniard is currently tied for first at -4 and has by far the most tour wins (21 between the PGA and European Tours) among non-Masters winners at the top of the board.

4. Rickie Fowler wins his first major: Fowler has become a fan favorite with his exciting brand of golf and is oft mentioned as a member of the “Big Four” with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day. The other three, however, all have major titles and everyone’s waiting for Fowler to come through with his first triumph to fully earn that fourth spot. Apart from the sentimental favorites in Couples and Mickelson, Fowler might have the capability of producing the loudest roars on the back nine come Sunday. He’s tied atop the leaderboard at -4.

5. William McGirt wins in his first start at Augusta: The casual fan might initially reject the idea of investing time in watching a Masters that’s led by a lesser-known journeyman, particularly just one year after Danny Willett won and then missed the cut upon his return to Augusta. But it might not take them long to buy into McGirt’s story. This is his first Masters at 37 — he earned entry by winning last year’s Memorial — and he had tears in his eyes when the starter announced his name before the first tee of the opening round. Plus he looks like Will Ferrell and that’s bound to win him a few fans. He’s currently two shots behind the leaders.

Others we’re watching: Charley Hoffman wins his first major at age 40, Jon Rahm and Thomas Pieters win in their rookie starts and certify themselves as bona fide stars, fan favorite Matt Kuchar summons a charge for his first major win

Who do you want to see win the 2017 Masters?

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Meet Jeff Knox, the world’s luckiest playing partner
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