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Masters 101: A guide to the year's first major

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 5, 2018, 12:00 pm

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions of the Masters Tournament:

Who created the Masters?

The Masters was the brainchild of legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investment dealer Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the Augusta National Golf Club in 1933.


When did it begin?

The tournament began in 1934.


Who was the first winner?

Horton Smith. One of the better players of his day, Smith also won the Masters in 1936.


Why is it called the Masters?

When the tournament began it was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. Roberts suggested it be called the Masters, a reference to the "masters of golf" who played in it, but Jones thought the name immodest. Roberts finally got his way in 1939.


How did it become so popular?

Jones was one of the most famous and most admired sports figures of his day, especially after he accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning a "Grand Slam" - capturing the U.S. and British Open and Amateur titles. It was only natural that a tournament he established would inherit his popularity.


Why is it a major?

Unlike the other three majors - the U.S. Open, The Open, and the PGA - the Masters isn't the "championship" of anything. But majors have historically been determined by popular opinion, and between Jones, the fact that it is an early spring tournament and the quality of players who have won at Augusta, the tournament just naturally became regarded as a major.


Why does the winner get a green jacket?

In 1937, Augusta National members began wearing green sportcoats so that they could be recognized if fans had questions about the tournament. The tradition was expanded to winners being presented with green jackets in 1949. Sam Snead was the winner that year, so he got the first jacket, and all the previous winners were retroactively ordered jackets. The shade of green, by the way, is Pantone 342.


Does the winner keep the green jacket?

Technically, no. He is supposed to return it at the following year's event. But he can have a replica made for him to keep.  


Who is eligible to play each year?

There are currently 19 categories for invitation to this year's Masters. Ready? 1. Previous Masters winners; 2-4. Winners of the five most recent U.S. Opens, British Opens and PGA Championships; 5. Winners of the three most recent Players Championships; 6. The current Olympic gold medalist (one year); 7. The current U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up; 8. The current British Amateur champion; 9-11. The current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, Latin America Amateur champion and U.S. Mid-Amateur champion; 12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters; 13. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's U.S. Open; 14. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's Open; 15. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship; 16. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from the previous Masters to the current Masters; 17. Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship; 18. The 50 leaders on the final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year; 19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters.


Who are some of Augusta National's better-known members?

Augusta  does not comment on its membership or reveal the identities of its members, but these public figures are reportedly members: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens and Jack Nicklaus.


Why are holes named after flowers?

This is an homage to the property's former use as a nursery containing thousands of flowering plants and trees imported from various countries. Each hole was named after and adorned with one of these plants. Click here to view a hole-by-hole gallery with the flowery names.


Why do I keep hearing about azaleas in connection with the Masters?

Azaleas are arguably the most spectacular looking of Augusta National's plants. The 13th hole is named for them. They bloom for only a few weeks out of the year, however, and the club tries to make sure that is during the tournament.


Who designed the course?

The original architect was Alister MacKenzie, a British surgeon who later became a golf course architect. Jones had met him in 1927 at St. Andrews, a course they both revered, and Jones also admired MacKenzie's work in California at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. MacKenzie died in January 1934, after the construction work had been finished but before Augusta National was fully covered with grass.


What is Amen Corner?

Amen Corner is holes 11, 12 and 13, which are located - literally - at a corner of the property. The name comes from a 1958 Sports Illustrated article by legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind. Wind later explained that he was looking for a catchy phrase - a la baseball's "hot corner" or football's "coffin corner" - to show where some of the most crucial action had taken place that year. He said he took the name from a jazz record he had heard, "Shouting in That Amen Corner."


What is Magnolia Lane?

Magnolia Lane is the main driveway leading from Washington Road to the clubhouse. It is flanked on either side with 60 magnolia trees, which were planted in the 1850s.


What is the  Crow's Nest?

The Crow's Nest is living space available to amateurs on the top floor of the clubhouse. There are three cubicles, each with one bed, and one cubicle with two beds.


Who is Rae, of Rae's Creek fame?

The creek, which comes into play on the 12th and 13th holes, is named after former property owner John Rae, who died in 1789.


Who is Butler, of Butler Cabin fame?

Built in 1964, Butler Cabin was named for club member Thomas B. Butler. It is where the winner conducts his interview with CBS.


What is the Par 3 Contest?

The Par 3 Contest is a nine-hole competition held on the club's par-3 course the Wednesday before the Masters. It's extremely informal, with players' spouses and children often acting as caddies and even hitting occasional shots. No one has ever won the Par 3 Contest and the Masters in the same year.


What is the Champions Dinner?

The Champions Dinner is a gathering to which all former Masters winners are invited. By tradition, the previous year's winner suggests the menu, although options are provided for anyone who considers the menu not to their taste. It was started in 1952 by Ben Hogan.


Who has won the most Masters titles?

Jack Nicklaus won six Masters titles, two more than anyone else.


Who is the youngest Masters winner?

Tiger Woods became the youngest Masters champion when he won in 1997 at age 21.


Who is the oldest Masters winner?

Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters champion when he won in 1986 at age 46.


Who holds the 72-hole scoring record?

The record, 18-under 270, is shared by Tiger Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015).


Who holds the 18-hole scoring record?

The record, 9-under 63, is shared by Greg Norman (first round in 1996) and Nick Price (third round in 1986).


Has an amateur ever won the Masters?

No amateur has ever won the Masters, but a few have come close. In 1947, Frank Stranahan finished T-2, two shots behind winner Jimmy Demaret. In 1954, Billy Joe Patton finished one stroke out of the Sam Snead-Ben Hogan playoff. In 1956, Ken Venturi lead after 18, 36 and 54 holes, but he shot 80 on the final day and finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.


Did Jones ever play in the Masters?

Jones played in the Masters 12 times - every year it was held between 1934 and 1948 (because of World War II it was not held in 1943, '44 or '45). His best finish came in his first appearance, when he shot 6-over 294 and finished T-13.


What is the most famous shot in the history of the Masters?

Gene Sarazen's "Shot Heard 'Round the World, a 235-yard 4-wood shot that he holed for an albatross on the 15th hole in the final round. That helped him get into a 36-hole playoff the next day with Craig Wood, which Sarazen won. 


How does the Masters purse compare to the other majors?

The Masters purse is in line with the purses for the other three majors. The 2017 Masters winner earned $1.98 million; the U.S. Open winner, $2.16 million; The Open winner, $1.845 million; the PGA winner, $1.89 million.


When was Augusta National "Tiger-proofed," what did that consist of, and why was it done?

For most of its existence, Augusta National has played at slightly less than 7,000 yards. When Woods won in 1997, he effectively transformed the par-5 holes into par 4s by easily reaching their greens in two shots, sometimes with as little club as a wedge. Club officials decided to make changes - primarily adding length - after Woods won his second green jacket in 2001. Even with the changes, Woods won again in 2002. And again in 2005. More changes were made before the 2006 event, including the addition of trees and the narrowing of fairways. Woods has not won since.


What was the Eisenhower tree?

The Eisenhower tree was a tall loblolly pine whose branches hovered over the left side of the 17th fairway. It got its name from the efforts of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was an Augusta National member, to have it removed because he hit it so often. Nature finally did what Clifford Roberts refused to. The tree suffered extensive damage during a 2014 ice storm and was taken down in February of that year.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”