Bubba Watson

Masters flag

It’s great to be out of hibernation and back talking to you sports divas! As the north continues to thaw, viagra the Masters at Augusta National will officially usher in the “real” start to the golf season this week.  The PGA Tour has been competing since January, but all is in preparation for the Masters, the first major of the PGA Tour.

12th Hole at August National

The Masters, which officially begins with tournament play on Thursday, is my favorite week in golf.  My first golf memory is Tiger winning his first Masters by a record 12 shots in 1997.  If you watch one golf event this year, make it this one. Golfer or not, it’s easy to get swept up by the beauty, elegance, and history that encompasses the Masters.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • The Masters is the 1st of the 4 ‘Majors’ in golf which also includes the US Open (June 13-16), the (British) Open (July 18-21), and the PGA Championship (August 8-11).
  • The first Masters tournament was played in 1935. Beginning in 1939, the tradition of awarding a Green Jacket to the victor began.  This is possibly one of the only sporting events where men want to win clothing.  Each year the reigning champion puts the green jacket on the winner to capture the continuing history of the Masters.
  • The Masters began as Bobby Jones’ vision.  Jones was the greatest amateur player of all time and dreamt of building a golf course fit for hosting a championship.

Bubba Watson, 2012 Masters champion

WHO TO WATCH FOR:

  • Tiger Woods is on a tear. Back in the lead as the #1 golfer in the world, he’s won 6 events in his last 20 competitions and is the runaway favorite this week. The guy has some experience winning at Augusta National, he’s won 4. Even though his last win at Augusta was in 2005 and his last Major win was in 2008, you can never count him out. Winning his 5th Masters would give him 15 Majors and leave him only 3 shy of tying Jack Nicklaus’ elusive record of 18 Majors.  He will dominate the headlines and commentary until the Masters Champion is crowned.  Augusta National is his “home” course and he wants a victory more than ever.
  • Bubba Watson is the defending champion and has been under the radar early on this season, but has steadily improved his game leading up to Augusta.  He also has recently unveiled his project for a hover craft golf cart the BW 1.  He’s a playful guy, who’s never had a golf lesson in his life. The public fell in love with him when he burst into tears after making his putt for victory on the first playoff hole last year.

Rory Mcllroy

  • Irishman, Rory Mcllroy represents all the rising young talent in golf. He is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and won the most recent Major, the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, SC last August. He won by a record 8 shots.  His start to 2013 has been shaky in the midst of all the responsibilities of his new found fame. With his new Nike endorsement he signed in January for a reported $125 million/5 years, he switched golf clubs and starred in a great Nike Golf commercial with Tiger. However at last week’s tournament in San Antonio, Rory came in solo second and is poised to add his third Major victory.
  • Guan Tianlang, the 14-year old Chinese golfer who will be the youngest player to ever compete at the Masters. How does a 14 year old get the chance to play in golf’s biggest major? By winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2012, the young phenom received an automatic bid. Every year there is an amateur to watch, but many say Tianlang has the chance to truly make an impact this weekend.

WHEN TO WATCH:

ESPN

Thursday, April 11 2:00 PM – 6:30 PM CDT

Friday, April 12 2:00 PM – 6:30 PM CDT

CBS

April 13 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM CDT

April 14 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM CDT

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Will Tiger Woods win his 15th major?  Will an 8th grader find himself in contention? Both are possible as history has shown that anything and everything can happen at the US Open.  The 112th US Open begins today at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.  Like all US Opens, capsule the golf course is set up to be the toughest test of the year, diagnosis so be prepared to watch the best players in the world sweat it out.

As the most difficult major tournament of the season that is open to any qualifying pro or amateur golfer, the US Open is always fun to watch due to all the possibilities and Cinderella stories that could unfold.  Now, with Tiger back in the hunt and competing with the international fashion-forward young guns on the tour, this is definitely a year you don’t want to miss. Here’s what you need to know and who you need to watch for:

What You Need to Know About the US Open:

  • The US Open is the second of the four majors played each year:  The Masters, US Open, Open (British) Championship and the PGA Championship.  Majors are golf’s biggest events of the year: each one bringing it’s own unique challenges and pressures.  In addition to the most exposure and the toughest competition, the Majors have the largest purses (cash prizes) and winners receive the most FedEx Cup Points – the point system in golf.

    The Olympic Club

  • 156 players from around the world qualify for the US Open, but only 60 players with the best scores from rounds on Thursday and Friday make the cut and will play the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.  The course is so tough, be prepared for some big names to “miss the cut” – Tiger has done this for numerous tour events since his epic fall from grace 2 years ago.
  • The purse of the US Open is $8 million this year with the winner receiveing $1.4 million and 600 FedEx Cup points, in addition to being exempt from qualifying for the Open for 10 years.
  • What makes the US Open different than the other Majors is that anyone can qualify – it is open to any pro and/or amateur with a USGA Handicap not exceeding 1.4.  However, only half of the 156 slots are really open for new players – the other half are players that are exempt from qualifying – and in most cases won a major in the past that automatically gets them into the Tournament.

Players to Watch: 

  • Tiger Woods:  Wood’s last Major win was the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines in CA.  One of the most dramatic major finishes in history he won it on one leg with a torn ACL!   Tiger is four majors away from surpassing Jack Nicklaus and establishing himself as, hands down, the greatest player in history.  Despite injuries, and shaky “major” confidence, he’s still a favorite. Tiger is lurking and ready to pounce.  Tiger will be grouped with his nemesis Phil Mickleson and the surging Bubba Watson, making it a 3-some made for TV.
  • Andy Zhang, a 14 year old amateur, non-professional, is the youngest contestant in US Open history!

    Andy Zhang

  • Rory Mcllroy, from Ireland, is the defending Champion.  At 23 years old he is ranked number 2 in the world.  Rory ran away with the US Open last year will be hungry for his second win.

    Rory McIlroy

  • Luke Donald is the number 1 player in the world – and also one of the best looking on the Tour.  This British Northwestern grad holds the #1 spot in golf but still has yet to win a Major.  His major-less record haunts him and is always the focus point whenever he is playing.   He is poised to dispel any doubts with a win this week.

    Luke Donald

  • Bubba Watson is this year’s Masters Champion.  He plays with a pink driver, not afraid to cry happy tears in public, and is a new father to his adopted son, Caleb.  The most creative guy in golf today. (He’s never had a lesson!)  He will be hitting booming drives, and looking to be in the mix on Sunday.

    Bubba Watson

Groups to Watch (Thursday tee times)

  • 7:33 PDT Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson
    • 19 majors between them.  Woods is the only one with a US Open title; Mickelson has come in 2nd at the US Open five times!
  • 8:32 PDT Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson: ranked 32, 26, 27, good looking, 12 PGA Tour wins among them, Keegan won the only major in this group last year.
  • 1:29 PDT Luke Donald, Rory Mcllroy, Lee Westwood: ranked 1, 2, 3 in the world respectively, yet only one Major between them.
  • 1:58 PDT Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Ryo Ishikawa: Rickie is the most fashion forward young-gun on the PGA Tour, DJ is a good southern boy.

What’s Next:  It promises to be an exciting weekend. The leader board could dramatically change throughout the tournament.  Schedule is below.

US Open Coverage

Thursday June 14 and Friday June 15th

ESPN 12-3 PM EST

NBC   3-5 PM EST

ESPN 5-10 PM EST

Saturday June 16 and Sunday June 17

NBC   4-10 PM EST

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