The Master is one of the most famous sports events in the world. One of the four major golfing championships, the Augusta National held tournament attracts a huge following every year. But what is it, and why is it so popular?
The Origins of the Master
The golf tournament that would become known as the Masters was first played back in 1934. Set up by the golfing great Bobby Jones along with business partner Clifford Roberts, the event was originally called Augusta National Invitational Tournament.
Jones initially felt that calling it the Masters was presumptuous, byt by 1939 Roberts had won him over and contest had been called that ever since.
The popularity of the event in its early years had a lot to do with the partnershup between the two men. Jones was a golfing legend, completing a grand slam of four major titles in 1930, before tasking a mid-career break of four years.
Roberts added sound financial advice and business contact into the mix. The two would go on to publicize and promote the tournament, offering large prize winnings in the process. Another vital part of the equation was the course designer Alister MacKenzie. The Scottish architect collaborated with Jones to create the golfer’s dream course for players of all skill levels.
Mackenzie himself declared Augusta to be his best golf course. Sadly, he passed away in 1934 before being able to see the first tournament in action.
Memorable Masters Moments
Of all the major US golfing competitions, the Masters has the smallest field with 90-100 players taking part each year. As the original name made clear, it is an invitational event. However, the invites are widely publicized and players who meet the criteria are invited to take part.
The competition has featured many stand-out performances over the years. Here are just a few.
In 1987 the Augusta born and raised Larry Mize was a surprise winner of the Masters. Taking on the much more high-profile players Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman at the playoff for the contest, the local won out with a spectacular chip shop from 140 feet out. The result was a huge win for underdogs everywhere and showcased the surprise element that is a big part of the Masters popularity.
Sarazen’s Pitch Shot
Going back to the dan of the tournament in 195 was the setting for what many think as the greatest shot in golfing history.
Greg Sarazen was three strokes behind Craig Wood in the last round of only the second ever Augusta National.
He needed a big shot, and he got it. Sarazen managed to draw level with an outstanding double-eagle from 252 yards providing four under par.
He then went on to win the eventual playoff the next day.
Shot from Bubba Watson
More recently, another incredible pitch shot in 2012 from Bubba Watson is a play that has gone down in Masters history.
Golf fans in Augusta regularly seek out exactly where the player managed to get within 15 feet of the hold from 144 yards out thanks to an expert pitch wedge shot.
The fantastic moment helped propel him to his first Masters title.
This Year’s Event
The 85th edition of the Masters promises to be as spectacular as ever, and fans around the world are sure to be tuning in their millions.
As with every great sporting tournament, there is always a strong factor of unpredictability involved. But that doesn’t stop people from speculating.
Here are some of the players expected to do well thanks to recent competition.
Dustin Johnson is the reigning champion thanks to an impressive win last year. The player who grew up locally to Augusta is the firm favorite to hold onto the famous winner’s green jacket this year’s Masters betting odds.
Jon Rahm is well among the favorites in many people’s minds. The Spaniard has won five former PGA tour events and looks well prepared this year.
Justin Thomas is also rated as a favorite this year. Marked as an in-form player thanks to his wins of at least two titles in the last three years.
Rory McIlroy is also set to attract many a tip from golf fans. The Northern Irish player was ranked no 1 in the world in 2012.
His recent form suggests that he may be in with a great chance of securing his first Masters title.
He has formerly won the other three majors at least once, winning the PGA Championship twice in 2012 and 2014.
Whatever happens this year, the event promises to be another memorable golfing spectacular.
With so many opportunities for skilled players to make an exciting impact on the game, the scene at Augusta looks set to thrill and excite. Golfing devotees will be sure to have the tournament already marked in their calendar.