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The U.S Masters - 6th - 9th April 2017

By Kevin Cain

It has come to that time of the year again when the first major tournament of the golfing calendar is to be competed for.The Masters always heralds the start of a new golfing season in terms of the four majors. Taking place in April every year, the Masters is the only one of the big four that is played at the same venue every year, namely Augusta.The other three majors being: The U.S Open, The Open Championship and The PGA Championship. The Open Championship is the only tournament that is played outside of America and in 2017 is being held at Royal Birkdale in July during the 20th to the 23rd.The last major of the year is the PGA Championship, and this year competitors will visit Quail Hollow in August. Squeezed in between these tournaments during June is the U.S Open at Erin Hills.

The History Of The Masters

The Masters Golf Tournament, more commonly known as The Masters, was started by Augusta National Golf Course designers Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones back in 1933. One year later the first-ever Augusta National Masters Invitation Tournament was held, with the winner being Horton Smith.Headlines at the time were being dominated by news of Adolf Hitler’s recent policies, Clark Gable attending the Academy Awards dinner, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig hitting home runs for the New York Yankees.

Bobby Jones was big news at Augusta and was dominating the field in the tournament, it came as big shock that he retired in the late 30’s at the tender age of just 28.The inaugural tournament had a format that the golfers first played holes 10-18 as the first nine, and 1-9 as the back nine. The very next year this was reversed, and it has remained that way ever since.

 

Gary Player Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s the Masters was dominated by three great men. Gary Player Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Between them they won the tournament 11 times during the twenty year span.However from 1980 onwards, non-American golfers were the most successful, and it was the longest losing period in any US tournament for home grown players.

Over the years Augusta has been augmented and tweaked. In 1998, the course measured 6925 yards but by 2002 this became longer to 7270 and right up to 7,445 yards in 2006.

Going to see The Masters is affordable to many, but tickets are hard to get hold of. Even the practice rounds are normally sold out, with tickets on sale one year prior. Tickets are only sold to members of the patrons list, which is now closed.

The Green Jacket

Danny Willett receiving his green jacket as winner of the 2016 Masters Tournament

Each year the winner of The Masters is presented with the coveted green jacket, and the Sunday night televising of the victor slipping on the most prized piece of clothing in sporting history is one of the years greatest sporting moments.Normally if you spotted somebody walking around in a shamrock green jacket you would question, either their dress sense or their eyesight. However the tradition of this particular green jacket goes right back to 1937. That year, members of the club wore green jackets so that fans could recognise them.

Apparently the inspiration came from a dinner that Bobby Jones attended at The Royal Liverpool Club. The English links club’s captains were all dressed in smart red jackets during the function.

Clifford Roberts liked the idea that Bobby Jones relayed about the jackets he had seen, and the first Augusta Club Jackets were bought from Brooks Brothers of New York. During 1937 to 1948 only club members were allowed to wear the jacket, but from 1949 onwards, tournament winners also started to receive one.Sam Snead was the very first winner to wear the famous shamrock green and a year later as with all champions, he had to return it to Augusta. Although past winners can get duplicates made to keep at home.

There is another tradition that has been adopted in the ceremonial presentation of the Green Jacket and that is that the previous year’s champion presents the new champion with his prize. Almost the same ritual as the previous Miss World tottering on her high heels and begrudgingly placing her beloved crown on a new noggin.

 

2017 Masters Tournament

This years competition looks as though it will be fiercely competed. The top five according to golfodds.com is Jordan Spieth @ 6-1, Rory McIlroy @ 10-1, Jason Day @ 10-1, Hideki Matsuyama @ 12-1 and Dustin Johnson @ 12-1. Old favourites and past winners of Opens, Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle are the rank outsiders at 5,000 -1. Thai golfer Kiradech Aphibarnrat who is currently ranked as 68th in the world, might well be worth considering as his odds are an attractive 300-1.

Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are the two golfers that will probably give Jordan Spieth the biggest run for his money. The main talking point at the moment that has fans really excited is the return of an improving Tiger Woods. The four times past winner missed out on the 2016 Masters but is heading back with a vengeance and is an incredible 100-1 in the betting.

Possible contenders must also be Bubba Watson, and the 2016 Open champion Dustin Johnson. Do not dismiss lightly Henrik Stenson or PGA winner Jimmy Walker, and of course the returning 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett.

Without doubt the US Masters is one of the greatest sporting occasions in the world, and Sunday’s round will attract over 14 million viewers in the US alone. The whole championship is broadcast throughout the world and eagerly awaited by all sports fans, but of course those with a golf preference will have the most interest.

The Masters is also said to be an early indication of the nationality of golfers that will dominate the forthcoming Ryder Cup in 2017. This very rarely rings true, but as the first major to be played in the year it is a common belief but certainly the Masters will prove to be as exciting and competitive as ever and here in Pattaya we will be cheering on Kiradech Aphibarnrat !.