Ladies and gentlemen, we have an April Masters! We’ll bring you daily newsletters this week to keep you informed about the first spring Masters since 2019.

Weren’t we just here?

Yep. Six months ago, Dustin Johnson won his second career major championship in dominant fashion at Augusta National. DJ held a share of the lead for the first two rounds before firing 65-68 on the weekend, breaking the tournament scoring record. The win was his seventh top-six finish in a row and put an exclamation point on his ascent to an undisputed No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking.

They finished well behind, but Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith deserve credit for their efforts last year. Both players shot 70 or better in every round and ultimately tied for second. They finished three shots clear of Justin Thomas, who was solo fourth.

But enough about 2020. Really, who wants to remember that year? Let’s talk about what’s going on at Augusta National right now.

The course

Over the past couple of weeks, rumors have been swirling that the Masters venue is in prime, crispy shape. We got a peek at the proper championship conditions during the Augusta National Women’s Amatuer last weekend, and reports from the grounds yesterday confirm that the course is playing firm and fast. On Monday afternoon, Fred Couples said, “If it stays dry, it’ll be as difficult as the course has played in a long, long time.”

Fred Couples played his first Masters in 1983. He knows what he’s talking about.

The forecast for Augusta, Georgia, this weekend calls for dry conditions through Thursday, scattered thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday, and clear skies on Sunday. Thankfully, less than an inch of rain is expected during the tournament. Let’s hope Augusta National stays fiery. Last November, as grateful as we were for any kind of Masters, the wet, recently overseeded turf put a damper on the proceedings. It would be a treat to see the course be lightning fast just six months later. Augusta’s famous slopes and undulations really shine when the ball lands with a hollow thud and runs out.

The man of the hour

Right after his emotional victory at the Valero Texas Open, 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth made the trip to Augusta and was on the grounds on Monday. He enters this week with five top-10 finishes in his last seven events and as one of the betting favorites. As luck would have it, Spieth was scheduled for a Monday press conference at Augusta National, and he said many insightful things about his recent play, his history at the Masters, and his chances this week.

The most telling moment came when he discussed his use of the word “monumental” to describe his win at TPC San Antonio. “I think that was a little aggressive of a term. I did say it, but I didn’t think that,” Spieth said. “It kind of felt normal…. I felt the progression coming and I was patient with it, but you get one 54-hole lead and everyone thinks you’re supposed to win right away when you haven’t had a 54-hole lead in a long time. It was like, ‘Everyone, chill out!’” (No, Jordan. We will not chill out.)

Spieth’s confidence has been fickle in the past, but when he has it, he tends to feed off of it. We wouldn’t be surprised if he did something special at the Masters this week. “When you’re coming [to Augusta National] in form, it’s a good feeling,” he said. We bet.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

2021 Masters: The Fried Egg Draft – The Fried Egg “brain” trust (Andy, Garrett, Meg, Will) congregated in a Slack channel for a snake draft of the top 40 players—or at least, you know, 40 players—in the 2021 Masters. Among other important matters, they discussed Rahm’s New Dad Perspective, Bryson’s crowded Twitter bio, Reed’s future sponsorship prospects, and Will’s bitter rivalry with No Laying Up’s Tron Carter.

Shotgun Start: Masters edition of Paulie Picks—CT machine impacts and the Waffle House difference

This special bonus Tuesday edition of the Shotgun Start features old friend Fried Egg Paulie. Perhaps you’ve heard, but gambling and daily fantasy have become a part of the golf scene, especially at the Masters. There are a lot of Johnny-come-latelys riding this wave but Paulie is an original not looking for hype and most importantly, willing to indulge two know-nothing idiots. Andy maps out a daily fantasy lineup with Paulie’s help. Brendan asks how oddsmaking has changed since it’s rapid escalation as part of pro golf. They debate Bernhard Langer’s new equipment deal and Ian Woosnam’s breakfast of champions. They discuss Brooksy’s injury, low values, and hopeful amateurs. This has become a Masters SGS tradition and it is brought to you by the Shotgun Start blend of Bixby coffee—subscribe here and you will be able to join a live virtual and interactive happy hour during Friday’s round of the Masters.

Quick Hooks

Jon Rahm will fly to Georgia on Tuesday and see the golf course for the first time on Wednesday. ICYMI, Rahm and his wife Kelley welcomed their son Kepa into the world on Saturday.

Following two “retirements” from the Masters, Ian Woosnam will play his 32nd Masters Tournament this week. Full Story from Brentley Romine

The USGA is returning to Philadelphia Cricket Club for the first time since 1910. A.W. Tillinghast’s Wissahickon Course at Philly Cricket will host the 2024 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Press Release

Pairings for the Masters will be released on Tuesday. We’ll have a full breakdown of some groups to look out for, storylines to track, and press-conference highlights in Wednesday’s newsletter!

Pro Shop

Just because Augusta National will make the players sweat this weekend doesn’t mean you need to get all hot and bothered. Stay cool with a Shotgun Start Major performance hat!