The 81st Masters Tournament

A Tradition Unlike Any Other

Welcome to Masters Week! Golf’s first major tees off on Thursday and it shouldn’t disappoint!

2017 Masters Tournament

2016 Champion: Danny Willet

Augusta National Golf Club: 7,435 yards, Par 72

This entire post could easily be written about Augusta. Long time readers will remember Matty D’s love letter to the course three years ago and Barstool/Fore Play Pod’s Riggs wrote an in-depth recounting of his experience walking around today’s practice round. Augusta National Golf Club was built and designed by Bobby Jones in 1933 and the first Masters was held a year later as the “Augusta National Invitational Tournament.” After five years, the Club simplified the tournament’s name to its now legendary name: The Masters. The area of land Jones used to make the course was formerly a nursery and because of that reason, each hole is named after the flower beds that once laid there. For this and the early April weekend it is usually played over, the Masters screams everything about Spring.

The course has gone through some changes in the 83 years since Jones’ first design. In short, the competition committee tried to “Tiger-proof” after Tiger Woods’ 1997 dominant performance. However, dominant wins by Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth in back-to-back years and the longer distances players can bomb their drivers have not forced further lengthening. The competition committee has kept most of the glorious tradition alive, from Amen Corner (holes 11, 12, and the drive out of 13) to using many of the original pin locations on Sunday.

Weather:

Rain on Wednesday and a cooler Thursday and Friday means you could see the course play tough. The pristine weather during the final two rounds will open the track up for those who made the cut–the golfers will be tested this weekend.

TV Coverage (EDT):

Thursday and Friday: 3:00pm — 7:30pm on ESPN
Saturday: 3:00pm — 7:30pm on CBS
Sunday: 3:00pm to finish on CBS

For those itching for action and/or work normal 9 to 5 and couldn’t get the day, MASTERS.COM is the place for you. Your bosses will understand, they’re probably watching as well. It’s the Masters.

The Field:

The Masters features by far the smallest field of the four majors. This year only 89 golfers qualified which includes all previous champions who decide to play as well as many amateurs from around the globe. Jones himself was an amateur and wanted his tournament to celebrate amateur golf.

Storylines:

First and foremost: get ready to see a million highlights of Jordan Spieth‘s meltdown from last year. Spieth has recovered well since then and won at Pebble Beach back in February. Nonetheless, the TV coverage will milk the “Can Jordan Recover?” storyline into the ground and basically forget that he ran away with the Green Jacket two years ago. The man who won the Green Jacket last year, Danny Willett, has been playing very inconsistent golf as he would miss the cut one week and finish in the mid-teens the next week. As always, Rory McIlroy looks to finally close out the career Grand Slam and like Jordan, expect the TV coverage to air a lot of Rory’s 2011 meltdown if he’s anywhere close to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. Jason Day could be the story of the tournament. He withdrew from the WGC Match Play a few weeks ago after revealing his mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and was about to have surgery. He told the media today that she doesn’t need to have chemo now that the surgery went well so any previous fears that something may go wrong with her are thankfully gone. If he wins, it’s easily the feel-good story of the season. Jon Rahm is one the hottest golfers on tour entering the event after going toe-to-toe at the Match Play with Dustin Johnson, the world’s #1 golfer and winner of his last three events. DJ and Rahm will have a lot of eyes on both of them and it’s possible one of the two could run away with the tournament QUICK. Rickie Fowler looks to finally break through and win a major. He played really well last week in Houston and if it weren’t for 10 (!!!) Sunday birdies from Russell Henley, Fowler could have won two events in 2017 coming into Augusta. Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson are two golfers ranked Top 10 in the world but aren’t playing so hot as of late. Thomas won back-to-back events in Hawaii but fell off shortly after that and Henrik has missed three of his last four cuts. A guy I’d like to see finish close is Brendan Grace. He’s been up there in majors in recent years and it’d be great to see him break through.

Picks:

Cut: +2
The Winner and Score:

Had to. I couldn’t not pick Rory to win. Long-time readers know I’m a huge Rory fan. My man crush on him rivals Matty D’s man crush on Tom Brady, and that’s saying something! Rory messed up his ribs earlier in 2017 and you know how he responded in March? T-7 at the WGC in Mexico and T-4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Rory completes the Career Slam with a score of -9.

Speaking of Arnie, I’d be an idiot to not talk about him during the first Masters since The King passed away. Arnie was one of the biggest figures in golf and it’s hard to imagine not seeing him and Jack hit the ceremonial first tee shot. There are so many great stories about how incredible of a man he was. I know he’ll be smiling down on Augusta all weekend.

Who ya got this weekend? Anyone I missed? Let me know in the comments…

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