SI convened a panel of experts—senior writers Michael Bamberger, Damon Hack, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle as well as special contributor John Garrity—and a PGA Tour pro (who participated on the condition of anonymity) to take up these and other questions
Van Sickle: Is it just me or does this feel like the most important Masters ever?
Shipnuck: It does seem potentially monumental. Tiger is entering the twilight of his career; Phil is still a threat but his days as a contender may be ending; and Rory McIlroy is establishing himself as the game's dominant force. We have a new Big Three.
Van Sickle: So Phil and Tiger are costarring in Twilight?
Garrity: You're wrong, Alan. The 1942 Masters was the most important ever. Augusta National was on the brink of bankruptcy and shutting down for the duration of the war. If that Masters hadn't been settled by a playoff between Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, they may not have started it up again.
Hack: You should write that up for some magazine.
Garrity: I really should. Here's why Alan is excited—you're looking at a potential replay of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, where you had Arnold Palmer at his peak, a young Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan contending in a major for the last time. If we have something like that this year, maybe someday we'll look back and say, This was the Masters to top all Masters.
Bamberger: Why wouldn't this Masters be great? There are so many excellent players. If we made a list, we're talking about 15 players we think can really win, and that's more than we've talked about in a long time.
Anonymous Pro: This Masters is big because it marks a changing of the guard. The young guys are trying to stake their claim. They're taking over, and they're not scared of Tiger or any of the veterans. They have the edge.