Augusta National. The Green Jacket. Amen Corner. The manicured fairways. The blooming azaleas. Unmistakeably, the Masters.
Golf’s first major of the year is almost upon us, with the world’s finest players preparing to make their annual pilgrimage to one of sport’s most iconic venues.
The first tee shot will be hit on Thursday, 7 April, with a field of fewer than 100 men aiming to sink the winning putt on Sunday, 10 April.
World number one Jason Day, Jordan Spieth – bidding to become the first man to defend the title since Tiger Woods in 2002 – and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy head the field in the year’s first major.
What else do you need to know? Plenty. Here’s the lowdown…
Who are the main contenders?
Few people, including the bookmakers, are looking past the world’s top three players – Day, Spieth and McIlroy – to set the agenda at Augusta.
Day and world number two Spieth won three of last year’s four majors, while 26-year-old McIlroy is looking to complete the career Grand Slam.
Spieth, 22, has failed to find his best form in recent weeks, missing a cut for only the eighth time since the start of the 2014 season, before narrowly avoiding another early exit two weeks later.
The American defended his form after being called “garbage” by an internet ‘troll’, while McIlroy backed his rival by insisting Spieth’s form was “not slumping”.
US PGA champion Day, 28, has continued his fine start to the season by winning back-to-back tournaments, showing little rustiness from a three-month break at the end of last year after becoming a father for the second time.
The Australian suffered an injury scare in his opening pool match at last month’s WGC-Dell Match Play, but recovered to win the tournament for the second time in three years.
Will McIlroy complete the ‘Rory Slam’?
McIlroy steps on to Augusta’s first tee on Thursday aiming to become only the sixth man to claim the clean sweep.
The Northern Irishman is seeking a first Masters title following victories at the US Open, the Open Championship and the US PGA.
Winning the Green Jacket would propel him into exalted company alongside Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Ben Hogan.
And that is the world number three’s main priority. “It’s all about Augusta,” he said last month.
McIlroy will miss Augusta’s annual Par 3 Contest, which takes place the day before Thursday’s first round, in order to concentrate on winning the year’s first major.
“Maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favour,” he said, perhaps bearing in mind the ‘Par 3 curse’ – no player has won both in the same year.
The British hopes
McIlroy might well offer the best hope of providing a first European winner since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999, but he is just one of 16 British and Irish players aiming to emulate the Spaniard.
Former US Open champion Justin Rose, currently ranked eighth in the world, continues his search for a second major, while fellow Englishman Danny Willett is expected to make his second Augusta appearance following the birth of his first child.
The Yorkshireman has risen from outside the top 100 to the fringe of the top 10 in less than two years.
Familiar names such as Lee Westwood – who sneaked into the world’s top 50 in mid-December to qualify – Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter all return to Augusta.
England’s Andy Sullivan and Scotland’s Russell Knox, who both broke into the top 50 last year, will step into the locker room for the first time.
At the other end of the scale, veterans Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam, both 58, will play after accepting their annual invites as past champions.
Americans seek to continue home rule
Europe’s contingent have not won at Augusta since two-time winner Olazabal’s last success 17 years ago, allowing American players to regain dominance of the Masters in recent years.
The famed Georgia course has produced eight home winners in the past 12 years – and, as well as Spieth, there are several others with strong ambitions of becoming the third consecutive American champion.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, the world number four, is one of the favourites alongside Spieth, McIlroy and Day.
The 37-year-old left-hander heads to Augusta having claimed two wins as well as a second-place finish in his eight tournaments this year.
Phil Mickelson – a three-time winner and veteran of 12 other top-10 finishes at Augusta – is expected to mount another challenge, while Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed – who are all ranked inside the world’s top 10 – will head down Magnolia Lane hopeful of winning their first major.
Away from the Americans, look no further than 2016’s form man – 2013 champion Adam Scott.
The 35-year-old Australian leads the PGA Tour standings – just ahead of Day – after claiming back-to-back titles last month.
Scott claimed the Honda Classic at Palm Beach and then beat Watson by one shot at the WGC Championship at Doral.
“I think Bubba is the favourite,” said Scott after pipping Watson with a closing 69 at Trump National in Miami.
“Even if I won every tournament I play before the Masters, if Bubba keeps finishing second, I’d still think he’s favoured. It just sets up so good there for him.”
Is Tiger going to play?
No, he has ruled himself out. Woods, a 14-time major winner, has not played since September following a third back operation.
The former world number one, who has won the Masters four times, said he has been hitting balls every day as he continues his comeback, but is “not physically ready” to play tournament golf.
“I’ve decided it’s prudent to miss this year’s Masters,” said the youngest ever winner of the tournament. “I need to be cautious and do what’s best for my long-term health and career.
“Unfortunately, playing Augusta next week wouldn’t be the right decision. I’m absolutely making progress, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf.”
Where the Masters will be won or lost
Seeing the sign pointing towards Amen Corner can strike fear into the minds of even the world’s best golfers.
Many Masters contenders have seen their dreams of slipping into the Green Jacket fade around the turn, including – most famously – Greg Norman in 1996.
Five years ago, Rory McIlroy started the back nine with a seven and two fives – six over for three holes – to end his challenge.
Amen Corner, a term coined by legendary sports writer Herbert Warren Wind in 1958, strictly refers to the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, but many also tend to include the notoriously difficult 10th.
“If you can get through those in level par you’re a happy man,” says BBC golf commentator Ken Brown.
No ceremonial tee shot for ‘The King’
The Masters features many annual traditions, but few are more endearing than the sight of three golf legends teeing off to signify the start of the tournament.
This year, however, Arnold Palmer will not be hitting a ceremonial opening drive.
The 86-year-old four-time Masters champion is suffering with soreness in a shoulder that is preventing him from swinging a club.
Palmer has said, though, that he will still stand on the first tee to watch Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – the other two honorary starters – “sweat it out”.
“I would love to go on doing it forever, but I don’t have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I would want to hit it,” he added.
Why the ‘Green Jacket’?
Although the Masters began in 1934, the victorious golfer did not receive a Green Jacket until Sam Snead triumphed in 1949.
However, Augusta members had worn the coloured coats since 1937, encouraged by co-founder Clifford Roberts, so patrons could easily identify “a source of reliable information”.
Once Snead received his Green Jacket, the coat became a symbol of success – and is now one of the most iconic prizes in sport.
Winners are allowed to take the jacket home for a year and are rather generously allowed to wear the single-breasted, lightweight jacket “in public during that time on special occasions”.
After that, past champions have a custom-tailored coat waiting for them on their return to the Augusta clubhouse.
“It felt like my old friend was back on my shoulders,” said 2013 champion Scott ahead of last year’s tournament.
How to follow on the BBC
BBC coverage (All times in BST):
Tuesday, 5 April: The Masters 2015 Review, BBC Two, 14:00-15:00.
Wednesday, 6 April: The Masters 2016 Preview, BBC Two, 23:15-23:45.
Thursday, 7 April: BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, 21:00-00:30.
Friday, 8 April: The Masters Highlights, BBC Two, 18:30-19:30; The Masters Live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, 22:00-01:00.
Saturday, 9 April: The Masters Highlights, BBC One, 13:00-14:00; The Masters Live, BBC Two, 19:30-00:00 and BBC Radio 5 live, 21:00-01:00.
Sunday, 10 April: The Masters Live, BBC Two, 18:30-00:00 and BBC Radio 5 live, 20:30-01:00.