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It's Time for Golf's Greatest Tournament
The Masters at a Glance
Augusta National Golf Club • Augusta, Ga.
April 11-14 • Defending Champion: Bubba Watson
Brandel Chamblee's Take
The Masters Tournament is the only major played on the same course year after year. It is also the hardest major to get into, and as a result it has the smallest field of any of the game’s four biggest events. Given the small field, it stands to reason, however, that the Masters is also the easiest major to win multiple times, and the numbers back this up, as 16 men have won 45 of the 76 Masters Tournaments since the event’s inception in 1934. Perhaps it’s this familiarity, both with the course and its contestants that make this the most watched event in all of golf. Regardless of our reasons, we watch, ravenously, year after year, and the masterpiece design never disappoints.
One of those 16 men to have won multiple Masters is Tiger Woods, and he arrives in Augusta in 2013 trying to win his 15th major for the fifth year in a row. After witnessing a young Woods in the mid-1990s, no less a pair of authorities than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer predicted at least 11 wins in this event for Tiger. Woods and Rory McIlroy will get the lion's share of attention, but both of them have a tendency to miss left, and Augusta National brutalizes shots missed left (remember Rory among the cabins at No. 10 in 2011?).
In my opinion, we should look for a new winner this year — perhaps Louis Oosthuizen, who came so close in 2012, or Keegan Bradley or Justin Rose.
• Bubba Watson won The Masters in dramatic fashion last year, and crafted a shot for the ages in the process on the first playoff hole — a 154-yard wedge shot that he hooked out of the trees lining the 10th hole and onto the green to make par and win over Louis Oosthuizen. Watson won despite needing 120 putts over the four rounds, tied for 37th in the field. Bubba was fourth in driving distance at 290 yards and tied for fourth in greens in regulation, hitting 53 of 72 greens. He was tied for third with 19 birdies, and he minimized other mistakes.
• Patrick Cantlay was low amateur of the 2012 Masters despite a wild final round that saw him make two eagles, five birdies, six pars, three bogeys, one double bogey and a quadruple bogey. That added up to par-72 and helped him squeak past Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama for the low amateur title.
• Tiger Woods will look to rebound from his worst Masters performance as a pro. In his 16th appearance, after having been a constant contender for most of the past decade, Woods was inexplicably a non-factor. The four-time champion tied for 40th — along with another pre-tournament favorite, Rory McIlroy. Woods' worst previous finish as a pro at Augusta was a tie for 22nd in 2004.
• After making a double-eagle at the second hole during the final round of The Masters, Louis Oosthuizen inexplicably tossed the ball to a fan in the gallery. The man, Wayne Mitchell, ended up giving the ball to Augusta National, which in turn tried to return it to Oosthuizen — who gave it back to the club. Oosthuizen’s albatross was the first ever made at Augusta’s par-5 second hole.
• There have now been four double eagles in Masters history, one at each of the par-5s. The first, of course, came in 1935, Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Round the World." It came at the 15th during the final round and helped him get into a playoff with Craig Wood, which he won. Bruce Devlin had a 2 at the eighth in 1967, and Jeff Maggert holed a 3-iron second shot at the 13th in 1994.
• At age 52, Fred Couples became the oldest second-round leader in Masters history, eclipsing Lee Trevino, who was 49 in 1989.
• Phil Mickelson, bidding for a fourth green jacket, had two triple-bogeys during the tournament — and missed a playoff by two strokes. His first triple came during the opening round courtesy of a lost ball on the par-4 10th hole. And the second came Sunday at the fourth, when his tee shot hit a grandstand, ended up among the trees, and he twice tried to play shots right handed. Imagine if Mickelson had simply been able to minimize the damage on both those holes.
• The 75 by Tiger Woods in the second round was his highest second round in a major since the 2006 U.S. Open, shortly after the death of his father Earl, when he went 76-76 to miss the cut. It was only the third time in 66 competitive rounds at Augusta National that Woods did not birdie a par-5 hole.
• After blowing the 2011 Masters with a final-round 80, Rory McIlroy again put himself in position last year through two rounds — only to stumble with a third-round 77. He added 76 in the final round to tie for 40th.
• Robert Garrigus tied a dubious record in his Masters debut by making a 7 on the first hole. That matched the highest opening-hole score by a first-time competitor. Bill Ogden did the same thing at the 1954 tournament. “Well, I guess that’s kind of cool, actually," Garrigus said afterward. He ended up shooting 77-75 to miss the cut.