The Masters

The Masters

The Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA, will once again welcome the greatest golfers in the world when they gather for the 2017 Masters Tournament, which will be the first of golf’s four major championships to be held in the year – the others being the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.

The 81st Masters Tournament – which is already sold out – will take place between 6 April and 9 April and is expected to feature a host of past champions. These include 2016’s winner, England’s Danny Willett, who got to don the famous green jacket for the first time after going around the course in 283. Currently ranking among the world’s top 10 golfers, Danny was the first English player to win the title since Nick Faldo broke Australian hearts 20 years earlier by beating Greg Norman into second place.

Willett, whose victory was rewarded with prize money of $1.8m, managed his final round in 67 and pushed the 2015 winner, USA’s Jordan Spieth, into joint second place, just three strokes behind at the end of the tournament. One of the world’s top five players, Spieth was leading for much of the time but a quadruple bogey at the shortest hole – the par 3 ‘Golden Bell’ at 155 yards – effectively put an end to his attempt to retain his title and he ended up sharing second place with England’s Lee Westwood. The longest hole at the Augusta, incidentally, is the par 5 ‘Pink Dogwood’ at a challenging 575 yards.

Other past winners of the invitation-only Masters expected to grace the greens in ‘17 are Bubba Watson from the USA (he took the title in 2012 and 2014), Australia’s Adam Scott (winner in 2013), Charl Schwartzel from South Africa (2011), the USA’s Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006 and 2010), Ángel Cabrera from Argentina (2009), Trevor Immelman from South Africa (2008), the USA’s Zach Johnson (2007) and his fellow countryman the inimitable Tiger Woods (tournament winner four times in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005).

The 2017 Masters is also expected to feature the 2003 winner, Canada’s Mike Weir, Fiji’s Vijay Singh (victor in 2000), Spain’s José María Olazábal (1994 and 1999), the USA’s Mark O’Meara (1998), Germany’s Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1993), Fred Couples and Larry Mize from the USA (winners in 1992 and 1987 respectively) and 1988’s green jacket wearer Scotland’s own Sandy Lyle.

The 2016 tournament saw former champions Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam bow out for the last time and other big names who are not expected to take part in 2017 include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller, Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw and Tommy Aaron.

The masters

The Masters tournament was created by Robert T Jones Jr and first played in 1934 with the green jacket – which the winner keeps for a year then returns – introduced 15 years later and first worn by Sam Snead (Sam went on to win the Masters twice more in 1952 and 1954). The record for the most Masters titles is held by Jack Nicklaus who has won six times – in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, and 1986. He is also one of only three players to retain the green jacket in consecutive years, the others being Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo.

As can be seen from the list above, for the most part there tends to be a different winner of the Masters title every year – there have been 49 champions in 82 years – but two names dominated in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with Jack Nicklaus winning three times in four years and Arnold Palmer winning four times in seven years. In the early 2000s, Tiger Woods repeated Nicklaus’s achievement by winning three titles in four years and the two have the distinction of being the youngest and eldest champions respectively – Woods won when he was just 21 years old and Nicklaus when he was 46.

Among the unique features of the Masters tournament is the fact that it is the only one of the four major championships that is always played on the same course. Also, every player that wins the Masters is invited to take part in the other three tournaments, become a member of the PGA Tour for five years and appear in the Players Championship for five years.

Whether Danny Willett gets to join the superstars who have defended their titles – and become only the second English player to do so – or the green jacket goes to a brand new champion, one thing is guaranteed: the Masters 2017 tournament will be packed with excitement and drama and golf fans will be talking about it around the world for a long time to come.

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