Masters Thursday: Golf's greatest tournament begins. Who's taking the green jacket this year?

A detail of clubs in Masters champion Phil Mickelson bag during Practice Round 3 for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Source: Augusta National Golf Club)
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Hello, friends. Now that we have that reference out of the way, we can move along to what you’re here for, which is an in-depth look at Day One of the Masters.

Let’s start with tee times, which you can find on this conveniently placed page here.

[RELATED: Tee times announced for the first two rounds of the Masters]

And the weather for today, which looks to be gorgeous, picturesque, and all the stuff the sweeping cinematography of the Masters is made of.

Be forewarned, though, the weekend could bring some type of storms to the area. You can read our weather blog for more information.

Are you looking to get in the Augusta National Golf Club without much trouble? Well, we’ve been featuring a traffic plan all week to make sure you get there safely.

[RELATED: MASTERS TRAFFIC PLAN: Golf's biggest week has driving directions]

Alright, we’ve covered the bases. Now, let’s move on to the storylines.

Yes, let’s talk about Tiger’s chances first.

It’s the question asked every single year since 2005 when four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods last had that green jacket slid onto his shoulders.

Of course, it’s always the question asked to the man himself at every single news conference at Augusta National. So, Tiger, do you feel like you need to win the Masters again?

“I don’t really need to win,” Woods said. “I really want to.”

Who can blame him? What’s the key, Mr. Woods?

“I just think if you get off to a quick start here, a solid start, it gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” Woods said.

Solid advice. Tiger will tee off at 11:04 a.m. in his group alongside Haotong Li and Jon Rahm.

It pays to be the defending champion, right Patrick Reed?

Augusta’s own Patrick Reed is returning to the National on Thursday with his first green jacket. Reed has already been through the pomp and circumstance of being a Masters champion through the Champion’s Dinner on Tuesday night (we saw the menu, and phew, we could use a steak and some of that mac and cheese. Get back to us on that, Patrick).

But with that out of the way, Reed is going to have to get down to business quick if he wants to walk out of Augusta with another jacket. He acknowledged Tuesday that his life has changed since last year’s victory.

“I think the biggest thing would have been, you know, in the very beginning is just really managing my time well. I'm a grinder. I mean, if anything, I probably hit too many golf balls and you know, I'm on the golf course too long. So as later in the weeks come, it can get a little more stressful in my body and on my mind,” Reed said. “And then with being Masters Champion, now you're adding extra obligations and extra things that come along with it, and it's just trying to in the very beginning was trying to figure out, okay, how do I manage the time and make sure I get everything in I needed to do on the golf course and also off the golf course to be ready Monday through Sunday.”

Also a topic of discussion? Reed’s popularity. Since last year’s victory, golf writers around the world have delved into his professional life recently to dissect what they’ve seen.

He was even asked about it, responding that he feels like he has plenty of fans in Augusta.

“You know, that's one great thing about the sport we play is you know, whether it's here, whether it's anywhere else we play or whether it's around the world,” Reed said. “A lot of the fans, they respect great golf and they want to see great golf.”

It’s Augusta. There’s bound to be some great golf in the days ahead. Reed tees off at 10:31 a.m. with Webb Simpson and Viktor Hovland.

Dustin Johnson – is this the year you win it all?

He’s the No. 2 player in the world. He’s the fifth player in 50 years to win 20 tournaments before the age of 35. So is this the year we finally get to see Dustin Johnson put on that green jacket?

“Well, this week is no different than any week for me, but I'm going to have to do everything well if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday,” Johnson said. “I feel like the game is in very good form right now. You know, for me, it's all going to be up to my putting. If I can putt well this week, these greens I like these greens, they have got a lot of slope in them. It's greens that I like to see the ball breaking; it's something I really like out here. I'm comfortable on the greens, and I think if I can roll it well, I'll be right there come Sunday.”

Being there on Sunday, at least in Johnson’s eyes, comes down to his short game.

“For me, the biggest part of my game is going to be short game,” Johnson said. “If my short game is really good, especially around here, you have to chip and putt it well. If you chip and putt it well, you're going to have a good week.”

Johnson tees off at 1:38 p.m. with Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Day.

Jordan Reed – No. 1 player in the world – enters Augusta with eyes clear

Jordan Reed has had two runner-up finishes at the National in the past four years. As of this week, he’s now the No. 1 player in the world – just edging out Dustin Johnson.

But Reed is not looking back on those runner-up finishes recently. In fact, he’s focusing on his 2004 showing.

“I was leading through two rounds, shot a great first round, backed it up with a good second round and then shot 81 on the third day, which was obviously disappointing but just really taught me a lot about this golf course,” Reed said. “Gave me such great valuable experience and insights into how to play it, how not to play it and how it can kind of trick you and bully you a little bit at times.”

Reed is also firmly aware that No. 1 players in the world routinely struggle at the National. He might be aware of it, but he’s also no letting it dominate his thoughts.

“So I think the weeks that I am No. 1, it's really cool,” Reed said. “I feel like I haven't had my run yet where I've sort of separated myself as the No. 1 player in the world. That's a goal of mine, still. So I don't look at it that way, really, at all. So no one's really being that dominant right now. I think if anyone's been dominant, it's been Rory [McIlroy] in the last sort of couple of months.”

Ch-ch-changes to the course, Washington Road

National Chairman Fred Ridley held his customary chairman’s news conference on Wednesday to discuss steps the course is taking to change up the course and change how patrons can effectively navigate it.

Ridley talked up the recent changes to Hole No. 5, saying the change “maintains the original design philosophy of Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie.”

“We believe it will have a positive impact on pace of play,” Ridley said.

But, perhaps of most note to Augusta residents, is the fact that the National is getting into the tunnel business. That’s right, Ridley says the course, the City of Augusta, and the State of Georgia are working hand-in-hand-in-hand to engineering a tunnel on Washington Road.

“Thanks to modern engineering, we will be able to excavate under Washington Road without any impact to the flow of traffic above,” Ridley said.

The Masters tees off at 8 a.m.