Sandy Lyle of Scotland is rested and loose as he prepares to defend his Masters golf championship. But he does have one concern.

"I just don't want to make a fool of myself shooting 84 the first day," Lyle said. "I'm not nervous. I don't think I'm quite as sharp with the game as I was last year, but I'm not far off it. I've had two weeks rest and a chance to work on my game."

Lyle will try to become only the second player to repeat as champion when the 53rd Masters gets underway Thursday with an international field of 86 players, including five amateurs.

Jack Nicklaus included successive titles in 1965 and 1966 among his record six Masters championships.

No one has established himself as a clear-cut favorite to claim the green coat that goes to the player who carves out the best score for 72 holes on the storied Augusta National course, a 6,905-yard, par-72 layout.

British oddsmakers have made Seve Ballesteros of Spain, a two-time champion, and Greg Norman of Australia, one of the top players in the world who hasn't won at Augusta, 8-1 favorites.

U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, the first player to win $1 million in a season on the PGA Tour, doing it last year, was 12-1, and Lyle and Mark Calcavecchia, last year's runner-up, were 14-1.

Strange, the tour's leading money winner in three of the last four years, is winless this season. He did put together three consecutive third-place finishes in Florida this winter.

Ballesteros finished third at Houston last week, only his fourth event in the United States this season.

Norman, apparently recovered from the wrist injury that sidelined him for two months last year, tied for second two weeks ago at New Orleans and tied for fourth in the Players Championship, an event won by Kite.

Kite, who also won at Bay Hill the week before the Players, has a history of playing well at the Masters. He has finished second twice and has been fifth or better nine times in his previous 16 Masters.

Calcavecchia won tour events at Phoenix and Los Angeles earlier in the season and had an opportunity to win two other events. But he has missed the cut in three of his last five outings. He took off the last two weeks to prepare for Augusta.

Calcavecchia was tied for the lead with Lyle going to the final hole last year. Lyle came out of a fairway bunker to 10 feet of the hole and sank the birdie putt for a one-shot victory.

Others to watch in the season's first major championship are former champions Ben Crenshaw and Craig Stadler, Hal Sutton, Paul Azinger, Fred Couples and Bruce Lietzke.