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Master Tournament

The History of Master Tournament

More than the Indy 500, tennis’ US Open or the Kentucky Derby, The Masters Tournament, simply put, is the most iconic, revered and well-known sporting location in the United States.

People do not shout about Augusta National, they whisper; they speak in reverent, hushed tones about its beauty, its history, its champions and its challenges.

To even the most casual of golf fans, it is far more a national monument than a golf course.

It is the only of the four Majors to have been played in the same location every year of its existence, dating back to 1934, when it was founded by legendary player Bobby Jones and investor/administrator Clifford Roberts.

It’s also the smallest field of the four Majors. There aren’t a lot of long shots winning the Masters, largely because they aren’t good enough to get invited.

Prestige and tradition dominate the Masters, from the Champions Dinner, now in its 62nd year, which happens the Tuesday before the tournament and is only open to former champions and Augusta National board members, to the green jacket, first used in 1949, and only removed from the grounds if it is for a first-time winner.

It is the tournament of Jack Nickalus, who won it six times, and Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, who each own four titles.

Woods will not have the chance to make it five as he is out with an injury, but Phil Mickleson can shoot for his fourth, and Adam Scott, the 2013 winner, can try and become the first man to win Augusta in back to back seasons since Woods in 2001 and 2002.

Only one thing has ever stopped the Masters - war.

The tournament was not held 1943-1945 because of World War II.

When it returned in 1946, the prize money was upped to a then-record $2,500 (previously $1,500).

The first time Palmer won the Masters, he earned $11,250 for his troubles.

When Nickalus took his first title in 1963, the prize was up to $20,000.

By the time Woods won his first in 1997, shattering the course record and the margin of victory records, he pulled in $486,000.

Even that number seems small compared to Scott’s $1.44 million collected in 2013.

It wasn’t until 1961 that a non-American won Augusta - that being Gary Player of South Africa.

He would win two more before Seve Ballesteros of Spain joined his company in 1980.

Currently, foreign players have won four of the last six Masters - two for South Africa, one for Australia and one for Argentina.

Sixteen times, the Masters has been decided by a playoff, including each of the last two years.

The course itself was formerly a plant nursery, and each hole bears the name of a tree or shrub that populates it - from No.1 Tea Olive to No. 18 Holly.

CBS has broadcast the Masters every year since 1956, remarkably through a series of 58 one-year contracts. In the first year, the final four holes were shown live, but nothing else.

One old friend will be missing from the course this year, the Eisenhower Pine, which got its name because former President Dwight Eisenhower hit it so many times that he asked for it to be removed.

The tree suffered massive damage during an ice storm this February and had to be removed.

While his request for the tree didn’t pan out, Eisenhower did propose a dam to make a fish pond while visiting the course as a general. The request was approved, the dam built and Ike’s Pond endures to this dady.

Tournament Preview

Tiger Woods isn’t here, nor is the Eisenhower Tree, but the Masters is always the Masters, and the first Major of the 2014 golf season is finally at hand.

Defending champion Adam Scott will attempt to become the first player since the aforementioned Woods in 2002 and 2003 to repeat as Masters champion.

Scott tees off at 10:41 p.m. local time in one of the coolest pairings of the day, joined by PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, just 19 years old.

The tournament officially gets underway at 7:40 a.m.when honorary starters Gary Player, Jack Nickalus and Arnold Palmer tee off. The three all-time greats combined to win the Masters 13 times in their careers.

Following the three legends, the first group will consist of Stewart Cink and Tim Clark. Ninety-seven players are in the field this year, including 24 first-timers.

Right after Scott’s group takes the course, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy tee off at 10:52 a.m.

The other two defending 2013 Major winners, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, are paired together along with Ernie Els, teeing off at 1:48 p.m.

After bad weather early in the week, conditions should be ideal, if a bit windy for The Masters. Highs will be between 76 and 80 degrees with no chance of rain and wind between 6 and 12 miles per hour.

04/10/14, Thursday

On a leaderboard full of famous names, Bill Haas has the shortest moniker of them all, but also the easiest to recognize - he’s the one at the top.

Haas’ 4-under 68 gave him a one-stroke lead over defending champion Adam Scott, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and former winner Bubba Watson.

After an ominous bogey on No. 1, Haas rattled off five birdies over the next 12 holes, evening out a bogey on 17 with another birdie on 18.

Scott, seeking to become the first back-to-back winner at Augusta since Tiger Woods in 2002-2003, could have had sole possession of the lead had he not stumbled with a double-bogey 5 on No. 12.

The rest of his day consisted of five birdies and 12 pars.

Of the top four men on the board, only Watson did not have a bogey on the round.

Early leader Jonas Blixt was one of seven players to sit two strokes back at 2-under. Blixt was 4-under through 13, but bogeyed 15 and 18 to come back down to earth.

Also in the logjam at 2-under are Kevin Stadler, Gary Woodland, Jimmy Walker, KJ Choi, Brandt Snedeker and Marc Leishman.

A further eight players are tied for 12th at 1-under par, including Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. Also at 1-under is 54-year-old Fred Couples, who won the Masters in 1992.

The oldest man to ever win a Major was Julius Boros, who took the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years old. 

Jack Nickalus is the oldest man to win the Masters, doing so at age 46 in 1986.

04/11/14, Friday

What does the field at The Masters fear more than anything else?

A past champion taking command of the lead.

That fear was realized on Friday when 2012 champion Bubba Watson fired a 4-under 68 to get to 7-under for the tournament through 36 rounds.

Watson has a three-stroke lead over Australia’s John Senden, who also shot a 68 on Friday to leap from 20th to second.

It’s quite the international Top 5, with America and Australia being joined by Norway (Thomas Bjorn at 3-under); Sweden (Jonas Blixt at 3-under).

Watson is the only player to shoot in the 60s on both days. He made his fame Friday with a string of five straight birdies between No. 12 and No. 16 before bogeying No. 18.

The 43-year-old Senden looked headed for the cut early in the second round, struggling to bogeys on No. 1 and No. 4 to find himself 2-over for the tournament through 22 holes.

But he turned things around dramatically with birdies on 5, 7 and 8, then another string on 11, 14 and 15.

One-over on Thursday, Bjorn found himself riding the roller coaster on Friday, racking up eight birdies and four bogeys en route to his own 68. Four of the eight birdies came in the final five holes of his round.

Sweden’s Jonas Blixt was 2-under after Thursday and moved into the lead early in the round with birdies on No. 2 and 3.

He came back down to earth with a bogey on No. 7 and a double on 11 before rallying with two birdies on the back nine.

Also in the mix four strokes back are a pair of familiar faces: defending Masters Champion Adam Scott and 2013 Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth.

Scott, who fired a 69 on Thursday, was in deep trouble early, with bogeys on three of his first five holes.

At 3-over at the turn, he found his touch with a trio of birdies between No. 12 and No. 15.

Spieth put up the kind of round you’d expect from an uber-talented 20-year-old. He bogeyed No. 1, made consecutive birdies on 7 and 8, bogeyed 11, only to smack in an eagle 3 on No. 15.

A trio of familiar faces sit tied for seventh at 2-under, five strokes off the lead: Fred Couples, Jim Furyk and Jimmy Walker.

Walker has won three times on tour this year already; Couples won Augusta 22 years ago; and Furyk has the 2003 US Open title under his belt.

Headed in decidedly the wrong direction on Friday were Louis Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker and KJ Choi.

Oosthuzien followed up his 69 on Thursday with a 3-over 75 to drop from second to a tie for 15th. He would have remained in the top 10 had it not been for a triple bogey 8 on No. 15.

Snedeker shot a 2-over 74 to drop from fifth to 15th, and Choi a 75 to slide from fifth to 21st.

Choi birdied the first two holes of the day to drop to 4-under, then had a string of four birdies in seven holes to close out the front nine, followed by a double-bogey 6 on No. 11.

The cut came down at 4-over, meaning former No. 1 Rory McIlroy barely got in despite shooting a 5-over 77 that dropped him from 12th to 46th.

Not as lucky were such luminaries as Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.

04/12/14, Saturday

There were “experts” before the Masters who claimed that in order to draw a large Sunday audience, the tournament would have to have an exciting plot line, someone like Phil Mickelson or Adam Scott in contention since Tiger Woods wasn’t in the field.

Instead of Woods, the tournament’s final day will feature Jordan Spieth, who at 20, is threatening to break Tiger’s record as the youngest man to ever win at Augusta.

Woods was 21 when he won The Masters in 1997. Spieth won’t turn 21 until the end of July.

On Saturday, he shot a 2-under 70 to jump from third to a tie for first with Bubba Watson, who suddenly came back to earth with a 2-over 74.

Building momentum off his birdie on No. 18 on Friday, Spieth was solid if not spectacular, posting four birdies and a pair of bogeys.

His birdies on No. 14 and 15 pushed him into a tie for the lead.

Watson could have been far lower down the leaderboard. Watson bogeyed four of the first seven holes, but managed to eagle No. 2. Watson’s 3-stroke lead vanished in a hurry.

Thirteen players are within 4 strokes of the lead entering the final day.

A trio of big rounds saw three players from outside the Top 10 leap into contention on Saturday.

American Matt Kuchar fired a 4-under 68 to jump from 15th to a tie for third. Kuchar racked up six birdies, including three in a row from No. 13 to 15.

He’s tied for third with Jonas Blixt of Sweden, who has proven that slow and steady can have you in contention on the final day.

Blixt is the only player besides Spieth to shoot under par in all three rounds.

Blixt fired his second straight 1-under on Saturday. Right behind Blixt and Kuchar are Spain’s Miguel Jimenez and America’s Rickie Fowler at 3-under, tied for fifth.

Jimenez had the best round of the tournament, a 6-under 66 to jump 32 spots in the standings. Jimenez had seven birdies and a bogey.

Fowler shot a 5-under 67 to get to 3-under, knocking down three in four holes.

Defending US Open champion Justin Rose fired a 3-under 69 to get to 1-under for the tournament, tied for 10th with Kevin Stadler, John Senden and Fred Couples.

Defending champion Scott fell to a 4-over 76 to wind up at 1-over.

04/13/14, Sunday

Decidedly fewer so who can claim they’ve won the Masters twice in three years.

But Bubba Watson did just that on Sunday with a final-round 69 to win the Masters  by three strokes with a 69-68-74-69 - 280.

The victory is worth $1.62 million and 600 FedExCup points for Watson.

As is to be expected, the final day of a Major brings tight scores, and Watson’s 69 was the third best of the entire field.

Watson bogeyed No. 3 before stringing together four birdies in a six-hole span to take the lead at the turn. He bogeyed No. 10 but got the stroke back on No. 13.

Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth tied for second with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt at 5-under, three strokes off the lead.

Spieth showed just how great he can be and just how young he can be.

He had four birdies in his first seven holes, but never made another - and bogeys on No. 8, 9 and 12 saw him fall out of contention.

Blixt, who in a statistical anomaly, was the only player to shoot under par in all four rounds of the tournament. He had two birdies and one bogey on the round to shoot a 71.

Spain’s Miguel Jimenez finished fourth at 4-under, followed by Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar, tied for fifth at 2-under.

Kuchar had back-to-back birdies on No. 2 and 3, but came back to earth with a double bogey on No. 4. He slid way back with birdies on 17 and 18.

Former No. 1 Rory McIlroy led a large contingent tied for eighth at even par by shooting a 69. Also finishing in the mix there were Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler.

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