March 13, 2013

2013 Masters Preview

By - Brad Heerschop

With the PGA's first Major of the 2013 season steadily approaching, that time of year is upon us. It's the time when golf enthusiasts and fans begin to get antsy to start swinging the sticks themselves. In the next five months, all four of professional golf's Majors will be competed for.

The 2013 Masters will take place from April 11th-14th, and the 77th edition of this great tournament should be nothing short of thrilling. With 19 past champions expected to return to compete for the Green Jacket, this year promises (as always) to boast the PGA's greatest players on one of golf's most prestigious courses.

Photo by: Getty Images
Personally, the Masters is my favorite of the four Major tournaments. It has the smallest field of the four, generally allowing less than 100 players to compete. It is also the only Major that is played at the same course every year; Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters has been contested every year since 1934, excluding 1943-1945 due to World War II. Originally called the Augusta National Invitational until 1939, the PGA has handed out a Green Jacket to the winner each year since 1949.

Jack Nicklaus has won the tournament a record six times. The most recent victory for "The Golden Bear" came in 1986. At the age of 46, he became the championship's oldest winner. This was his record 18th and final Major championship victory.

The lowest score ever recorded at Augusta for a single round is 63. That feat has been accomplished twice. In 1986 Nick Price pulled it off, and ten years later "The Great White Shark," Greg Norman matched it. Incredibly, neither golfer went on to win that same year.

In recent memory, there have been some incredible moments in the tournament. In 2012 an incredible shot by left handed golfer Bubba Watson from the pine needles helped him win the tie-breaker over Louis Oosthuizen and kept fans on the edge of their seats. Watson won despite his unorthodox swing and the fact that he has never had a single golf lesson.

In 2009, Argentina's Angel Cabrera won the Masters. This was another moment that stood out for me. Kenny Perry could have become the oldest player to win a Major, but instead bogeyed the final two holes, giving the Green Jacket to the improbable Cabrera.

These are just some examples of what makes the Masters one of golf's greatest stages.

Tiger Woods, golf's most controversial player, is currently tied for second in Green Jackets with Arnold Palmer. Each golfer has won the Masters four times. Tiger's four-round total of 18-below par in 1997 is the tournament record.

Woods had a big 2-stroke win this past weekend at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Doral, Florida. Tiger currently sits second in the world golf rankings and second in money earnings. He also has the lowest scoring average in the PGA this season.

Among active players, Phil Mickelson is second behind Tiger, with three Green Jackets. Mickelson is currently fifth in money earnings and tenth in the world rankings.

While Woods and Mickelson may be the fan favorites, neither is the odds-on favorite to win this year's Green Jacket. That distinction belongs to world No. 1, 23-year-old Rory McIlroy.

The aforementioned golfers, along with Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, and Justin Rose are the class of this year's tournament.

If you watch golf, you won't want to miss the excitement of the Masters this year. With all of the pressure put on the players to perform at the highest level, the tournament will not disappoint. Expect lots of drama and plenty of excitement when you tune in this April.

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