[PHOTO: Augusta National]

We will resist starting this post with, “Hello friends,” as that would be cheesy. And with seven days until the Masters, we don’t want cheese. We want facts. So, we’ll be starting a countdown of things you should know about the 2024 Masters. Each day the number of things to know will match the days remaining until that first tee shot.

1. Which Aussies are in the Masters?
We’ve got six this year, barring an Aussie at the Valero Texas Open winning and punching the very last ticket to Augusta. The pack is led by Jason Day and Min Woo Lee, our only two golfers in the top 50 on the world ranking at 22nd and 32nd, respectively. There’s also Adam Scott, Cam Davis and Cam Smith. The continent is rounded out by an amateur from Victoria, Jasper Stubbs, who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur to gain entry.

2. When does it start?
The Masters will begin in the morning of Thursday, April 11, and first round coverage will come on TV for Australian viewers at about 12am AEST on Friday.

3. Who is the defending champion?
Jon Rahm, who added the 2023 green jacket to his 2021 US Open triumph. The Spaniard plays on LIV Golf now.

Scott won the 2013 Masters.

4. Did Augusta National make any changes to the course in preparation for the Masters?
Glad you asked. There’s only one. The Masters tee for the par-5 second hole was moved back 10 yards and slightly to the left.

5. Is Tiger Woods playing?
It’s extremely likely. He’s listed on the Masters website, and he reportedly flew from Florida for a scouting mission last week to play the course with Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley and Justin Thomas.

6. What are some of the storylines leading in?

For the Aussies, it’s that our guys need to find some form as all five professionals are playing solidly but nothing particularly world-beating. Day hasn’t finished inside the top 30 since the Genesis Invitational in February, Lee hasn’t finished in the top 40 since his PGA Tour career-best runner-up in early March, Scott hasn’t had a top 10 since February. On LIV Golf, Smith was tied second after losing in a playoff at LIV Hong Kong and outside that event has been playing solid.

Apart from the Australians, Scottie Scheffler is the world’s best ball-striker but his putting continues to be a point of contention. He missed a five-foot putt that would have forced a playoff at the PGA Tour event in Houston last weekend. However, he’s the world No.1 and won the Arnold Palmer event on a brutally difficult Bay Hill and then a second straight Players Championship. Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy admitted he recently sought a two-day lesson with Butch Harmon, the guru who worked with former world No.1s Scott, Woods and Greg Norman. McIlroy is the only active player who needs a Masters win to complete the career Grand Slam. LIV Golf will send 13 players to the Masters, among them defending champion Rahm and reigning PGA Championship winner, Brooks Koepka.

7. Which Aussie has the best history at Augusta?

Scott won the Masters in 2013, but hasn’t sniffed the top 10 at Augusta since 2017. Smith has the best recent record, sharing second place in 2020, third place while playing in the final group with eventual winner Scheffler in 2022 and he boasts another top-five finish. Smith is also our most recent major winner, having triumphed at the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrews. Smith’s creative style suits intellectual courses like St Andrews and Augusta National. Look for him to be our best performer.

Smith won the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in 2022.