Sky Sports News HQ presenter Kirsty Gallacher looks forward to what could be the most wide-open and exciting Masters Tournament in living memory... The countdown is almost over, and its time for one of my favourite sporting weeks of the year. The Masters is just around the corner, and what a tournament we have in prospect.Twelve months ago, we looked forward to a wide-open and exciting week and we were not disappointed. We saw a record number of birdies and eagles, and Jordan Spieth proved a worthy champion at just 21 years of age. Bubba Watson helped Jordan Spieth into the Green Jacket 12 months ago But this year, I think we could see an even better tournament. Looking at the list of genuine contenders, there are so many players in with a chance of slipping on that famous Green Jacket on Sunday afternoon, and that reflects the state of the sport at the moment.In my opinion, golf is more exciting than ever right now. There is not much separating the top 30 players in the world rankings, and having four of the top five still in their 20s is great for the game. Jason Day is the hot hand right now, taking over from Jordan Spieth as world No 1 Jason Day is now ranked as the best player on the planet after following up his win at Bay Hill with a stunning performance in last weeks WGC Match Play. He is fantastic to watch, and he deserves all of the success hes had since hitting a purple patch at the end of last summer. Eight places Get eight places on the Masters with Sky Bet! Day has knocked Spieth off the summit, and its fair to say Jordan has been a little out of sorts in recent weeks - something he has acknowledged with typical good grace. But I still believe in Jordan Spieth. Spieth has not been in the best of form, but he cant be ruled out at Augusta I tipped him to be the best of the vast crop of talented young guns at the Masters last year, and I was delighted to see him produce one of the best performances Augusta has ever witnessed despite his tender years.Jordan might have gone off the boil lately, but he has an old head on those young shoulders and I dont doubt for a second that he can turn his form around on the grandest stage of all. He is naturally gifted, one of the best putters in the world, and returning to the scene of his remarkable win last year will spur him on once again. Rory McIlroy will be hungrier than ever to complete a career Grand Slam of majors And then theres Rory McIlroy, who I think is a really hot bet for the Masters this year. Nobody in the field will be as hungry as Rory to get their hands on that Green Jacket, and he will be more focused and determined than ever to join the elite club with a career Grand Slam of majors.Hes been playing well this year without quite managing a victory, but this is the week he will have had at the forefront of his planning for many weeks now. The course sets up perfectly for him, and changing his putting technique has galvanised his confidence over the last month. McIlroy has opted out of the Par Three contest this year Its a shame he has opted not to play the Par Three contest this year, but Ive got no problem with that. That just shows how meticulous his preparations are, and if he can string four solid rounds together on a course that sets up perfectly for him, hell be hard to beat.Rory couldnt quite get it together over the first couple of rounds last year, and the weight of expectation might have had an impact on that. But he shot 68 and 66 over the weekend to finish tied for fourth - thats what hes capable of, and he knows it.Im also expecting a good showing from a number of English challengers this year, and Id be thrilled if Justin Rose can pull off something special. He might be in his mid-30s now, but I feel he still has so much to give. He always seems to be up there contending for majors and, with his game maturing all the time, Im sure hell be one to watch next week. Andy Sullivan has been great to watch over the last 18 months Justin has been an established world-class player for many years now, but Andy Sullivan has risen to prominence over the last 18 months and has proved one of the most popular players in the game. He is a wonderful character, and I love his attitude on the course. He wont beat himself up if he makes a mistake, he just shrugs it off and thinks about the next hole. That is a priceless attribute, and Ive no doubt he will cope well with the pressures of making his debut at the Masters.Andy is one of the most improved players in the world, and the same can definitely be said of Danny Willett. He upstaged McIlroy to win in Dubai earlier this year, and his superb run of results has elevated him to 12th in the world rankings.Theres also Matt Fitzpatrick, who was a pleasure to watch when he won the British Masters supported by Sky Sports last autumn. He was the youngest player in the field at Woburn and his victory provided a great story. Ian Poulter boosted his Masters and Ryder Cup hopes with a strong week in Puerto Rico The performances of the British and European players are all the more under scrutiny in a Ryder Cup year, and nobody is aware of that more than Ian Poulter. Hes had a difficult few months, but he bounced back in Puerto Rico last week and finished a shot out of a play-off for the title.Poults is in the field for the Masters having been in the top 12 last year, and his display at Coco Beach gives him plenty to build on as he looks to force his way into Darren Clarkes team. Watch The Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports - your home of Golf. It would be great to see him have another strong week at Augusta, and Poulter is one of a number of the old guard who will be determined to show the youngsters they will not have it all their own way this year.Adam Scott is probably the stand-out star in that group, and he has been in blistering form lately. Many said he would struggle when the anchored putting ban came into force in January, but he has silenced the doubters and has been putting better than he ever has.He is most certainly back among the worlds elite, and history tells us that the best putter often wins the Masters. And if you combine his recent form with his record at Augusta, he is yet another player in with a shout. Phil Mickelson will be preparing for his 24th Masters appearance And dont forget Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion. He didnt have a great 2015, but he has looked in good touch so far this year. Experience is a valuable asset during the first major of the year, and no one has more experience than Phil as he prepares for his 24th appearance at Augusta.You can never discount a past Masters champion, and that brings Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel into the frame as well. Both have won on the PGA Tour this year, and both on very tough courses, and that bodes well for the challenge ahead.Then theres the likes of Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, or how about Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace - the list seems never ending. Kirsty will be bringing you all the latest updates from Augusta throughout Masters week Picking a prospective winner at this years Masters is tougher than ever, but isnt that a good thing? Were looking at a field with an alluring blend of dynamic young talent, highly-respected elder statesmen, charismatic newcomers and - above all - genuine role models.That just reaffirms what I said earlier - that the state of the game today is in fantastic shape, with top-quality players from all parts of the globe bidding to make their mark over four enthralling days in Georgia.But one thing is certain. Whoever ends up in the Butler Cabin on Sunday evening will be a worthy champion. The anticipation is building, and I cant wait to get out there to bring you all the latest news, developments and interviews from beside the first fairway. 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