“Hello, friends …”
Hearing those two words uttered by Jim Nantz from Augusta, Georgia makes you feel like a child about to descend the staircase on Christmas morning to check out their haul. It is Masters week. A time when every weekend warrior, clubhouse champion, and bogey bro collectively watch our idols amongst the azaleas and convince ourselves, “I could do this.”
While we all will be on “Tiger Watch” these next four days, there are some other interesting storylines to follow as well along Magnolia Lane.
1. No amateur has ever won The Masters
The best finish an amateur has carded was in 1956, when Kevin Venturi led through 56 holes over both Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer. With a final round score of 80, Venturi ended up losing by one stroke to Jack Burke Jr.
There were also second-place finishes for Charlie Coe in 1961, and Frank Stranahan in 1947.
2. The last time Corey Conners won the Valero Texas Open …
… Tiger Woods went on to win The Masters. And, in case you missed it, Conners just won the Valero Texas Open again last week.
Tiger’s iconic 2019 Masters win, his 15th major, was the encore to Conners’ first PGA Tour win the week before at the Valero Texas Open. Although improbable, history repeating itself would be … a tradition like no other?
3. It has been 35 years since an ace at the 12th
In 1988, not long after four-putting the ninth green, Curtis Strange stepped up to the 12th tee. Far-right pin location. A run of birdies needed to make the cut. For the average golfer, going right at it would be a terrible idea. But aiming just a little left of the flag, Curtis Strange landed it inside eight feet and the ball rolled in. The strangest part? Strange walked up to the hole, picked up his ball, and hurled it into the creek. The golf gods required a sacrifice.
4. Nobody has won the Par-3 Contest and The Masters in the same year.
Use this knowledge to your advantage. Either chase that big payout, or avoid it like my own scorecard avoids pars.
5. If you miss the cut, you still receive $10,000
This is not the case for many PGA events. It is not much, but maybe with the extra $10K, the losers of the tournament can install a simulator in their homes to get some extra practice reps in.
6. The Masters’ course record is 63
Only two men have carded a 9-under at The Masters, Nick Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996). One man has carded a lower official score (61) in a non-Masters round. That belongs to longtime non-playing marker Jeff Knox.
7. Worst start in Masters history
In 2016, Ernie Els began his day with a six-putt for a 9 on the first hole. This is not the worst score ever on a single hole, however – that’s a three-way tie at 13. Tommy Nakajima in 1978 (on the 13th), Tom Weiskipf in 1980 (for a 10 over par on the 12th) and Sergio Garcia in 2018 (on the 15th). Garcia had won The Masters the year prior – ouch!
Ernie Els’ 2016 Masters Scorecard
8. CBS began televising The Masters in 1956
Bernhard Langer, the oldest player in this year’s field, was born one year later, in 1957.
9. Foggy vision for those with glasses
The only two bespectacled players to become Masters champions were Tommy Aaron in 1973 and Vijay Singh in 2000. Singh is the only player in the 2023 field who wears glasses. Coincidentally, these two also share a birthday (Feb. 22).
10. Playoffs? You want to talk about playoffs?
There have been 17 Masters playoffs – 11 sudden deaths (1979, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1990, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2017), five 18-hole playoffs (1942, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970), and a single 36-hole playoff (1935).
Winning The Masters takes an incredible amount of skill, practice and mental fortitude, but perhaps most importantly, a little bit of luck too. All the right things need to line up at the right time in order to have the green jacket draped over your shoulders.
When you tune in to watch this year, cherish every moment, follow every shot, and appreciate just how special each and every stroke could be. History isn’t being written, it is being lived.
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