For the golfer, Masters week means that Spring has finally arrived, bringing a fresh new golf season where anything is possible. Emerging from his long winter hiatus, he’ll grab the remote and tune into “Live from the Masters” for a first look at Augusta National, and to see what’s in store for this year’s Masters. Incredibly, framed against the gorgeous backdrop of azaleas and emerald green, Tiger is confirming that he will indeed be teeing it up on Thursday to go after his sixth Masters championship. And suddenly the excitement level jumps through the roof. Even after hearing that Tiger has been ripping it on the range, and displaying all of the greenside magic he used to win his first five Masters, it seemed impossible to believe that he could actually be back so soon after the terrible accident just a year ago. But this is Tiger, and impossible is not in his vocabulary. It would seem that Vegas got the memo, where Tiger has been given roughly the same odds to win as Bryson DeChambeau. At Augusta, it’s all about the greens, and Tiger knows them like the back of his hand. Winning the Masters is also about confidence, and Tiger wouldn’t be teeing it up if he didn’t believe he could win. There are quite a few talented youngsters in the field this week hoping to don the green jacket, and they will be a lot of fun to watch. But all eyes will be glued to Tiger, including those in the field as the pressure mounts heading toward Sunday. One thing is certain, this is going to be one heck of a weekend—and could there possibly be a better way to launch the golf season? Especially if Tiger were to do the impossible once again, and take home his sixth Masters championship.
The Masters features the smallest field of all the majors, but includes the biggest names in golf from around the world. The early favorite is Jon Rham, followed closely by Justin Thomas. Scotttie Scheffler, who recently moved into the top spot in the World Golf Ranking, along with Cameron Smith, coming off his victory at the Players Championship, each have an opportunity to notch their first major championship win—so it would be a surprise if they were not among the leaders heading into the weekend. But the player to keep the sharpest eye on is two-time major winner, Collin Morikawa. Having just turned 25 years old, Morikawa has already recorded five PGA Tour wins in his short career. Although he missed the cut at the Players, he has recorded five Top 10 finishes in his last eight starts, including three Top 5’s. And with his precision iron play, expect him to have a ton of good looks for birdie on the devilish Augusta greens. Jordan Spieth also knows his way around Augusta, and it will be interesting to see if he can improve on his T3 at the 2021 Masters. Another player of particular note is Patrick Cantlay, coming off his FedEx Cup win last year and trying to break through for his first major championship. Also watch for Brooks Koepka, who always seems to get himself in the mix when a major championship trophy is on the line. And then there is Rory of course, who will no doubt crush the par 5’s and play flawlessly tee to green, so that only his putter can hold him back from securing his first green jacket. It will also be fun to see Freddie Couples, teeing it up once again at the Masters. Somehow, regardless of how badly the back is hurting, Freddie finds a way to bring his best game to Augusta every year. He last made the cut in 2018, but this is shaping up to be a magical year—wouldn’t it be something if Couples could pull a rabbit out of his hat and make it to the weekend?
The big story, of course, is Tiger. If he can get himself into the mix come Sunday, the roars will be deafening. And the pressure on the field will be astronomical. There is nothing Tiger would love more than to match Jack’s back nine on Sunday at Augusta in ’86, and add a sixth green jacket while he’s at it.
Augusta National has provided some of the greatest moments in golf history—from Jack’s magical victory at 46 years old in ’86, to Tiger’s win in ’01 that completed the “Tiger Slam.” And of course, who can forget Greg Norman’s monumental collapse at the ’96 Masters, or when Fred Couples’ tee shot on 12 miraculously defied gravity, clinging to the slope above Rae’s Creek as he went on to win. And then there was Phil’s leap, following his birdie on 18 to win his first major, and the amazing approach on 13 from the pine straw when he took home his third green jacket in 2010.
Augusta National was founded in 1934 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, and designed by legendary architect Alister MacKenzie. Built on the site of a former nursery, with unique and abundant flora from around the world, Augusta is a place of unsurpassed beauty. And the Masters, where the giants of golf have gathered each Spring to match their skills, has become the most desirable championship in the world. When you watch the Masters, you are seeing golf history unfold before your eyes. And the 2022 Masters may prove to be the greatest ever.