April isn’t just for fools. It’s also time for the big hitters to head to the picture-perfect Augusta National Golf Club…
From Thursday 5 April, 7pm, Sky Sports Golf/HD (CH 515/505)
The first major championship of the men’s golf season is upon us – and this is a tournament where anything can happen. Last year, popular Spaniard Sergio Garcia grabbed his first major title (at the 74th attempt) with a gripping play-off victory over England’s Justin Rose. This year, who knows how it’s going to unfold?
All we can tell you is the course looks stunning, the game’s leading stars are in top form and Tiger Woods is fully fit and ready to fire. Yes, that Tiger Woods. He’s not won a major title for a decade, but he’s back on the prowl.
Sky Sports is the only place to watch all four drama-filled days live, plus Sky Sports viewers can enjoy the action at home or on the go with the Sky Sports app! To get you in the swing of things ahead of the event, here’s what you need to know before the players get to the first tee…
The tournament is wide open
You could make a case for any number of players as a potential winner, including world number two Justin Thomas, former champions Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, and European stars Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood. But if we absolutely had to choose one it would be Dustin Johnson (above). The big-hitting world number one has the game to overpower Augusta and will be desperate to make up for last year, when he had to pull out on the morning of the first round after injuring his back falling down the stairs in his rental home.
The winner gets loads of goodies
Along with a trophy and almost $2m, the Masters champion receives the Green Jacket. This single-breasted blazer may look like a shamrock-coloured fashion crime, but it’s actually extremely prestigious. The only people who are allowed to wear it are Augusta National members, who sport the blazers to identify themselves to “patrons” (spectators), and golfers who have won the Masters Tournament. Quirkily, the rules state that the Masters winner is allowed to take his Green Jacket off the premises for the next 12 months, but all other jackets must remain within club grounds.
The reigning champion serves up a feast
Another Masters tradition sees the previous year’s winner put on a spread for all the other former champions on the Tuesday night of tournament week. Current champ Garcia (above) has yet to reveal his menu, but past main courses have included haggis, neeps and tatties (Sandy Lyle, 1989); fish and chips (Nick Faldo, 1997); cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes (Tiger Woods, 1998); Texas barbecue (Jordan Spieth, 2016); and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (Danny Willett, 2017).
The winner of the Par-3 tournament is cursed
In addition to being the only place you can watch live coverage of all four days of the Masters Tournament, Sky Sports Golf is also showing the Par-3 Contest (Wednesday 4 April, 7pm). This fun event, which takes place over Augusta National’s bespoke par-3 course, always features big smiles, incredible shots and loads of people deliberately trying to disqualify themselves if it looks like they might win. Yes, that’s right. It’s all down to “the curse” – since the Par-3 Contest began in 1960, no winner has gone on to win that year’s Masters tournament.
Most of the action happens around Amen Corner
Every hole at Augusta National looks sensational, but the three that tend to produce the most drama are the 11th, 12th and 13th. Back in 1958, this beautiful but potentially brutal stretch of holes was nicknamed Amen Corner by celebrated American sports writer Herbert Warren Wind and it’s easy to see why. The long par-4 11th is the toughest hole on the course, the short par-3 12th has a creek in front of the green, and the par-5 13th has seen golfers record every score from a two (Jeff Maggert, 1994) to a 13 (Tommy Nakajima, 1978). Say your prayers and hope you come out unscathed.
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