Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the Vegas odds on favorites to win this year’s Masters golf tournament. Phil Mickelson is looking to collect green jacket number four, and won the Masters as recently as 2010. Many people forget he was in the hunt right until the end last year, and finished in a tie for third. Mickelson has four majors overall, and certainly knows how to play Augusta National. Then there is this other fellow named Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods won eight majors and three Masters from 1997 to 2002, but as hot as he was playing at that time, he was only getting started knocking down major titles.
In a three year period from 2005 to 2008, Woods totaled six majors and one Masters championship (number 4 overall), and it appears after a long dry spell that the Tiger Woods of old is back and as good as ever. Heading into this year’s 2013 Masters golf tournament, the 77th edition of the legendary contest in Augusta, Georgia, a talented field of 93 golfers will get things started on Thursday, April 11. Players as young as the 14-year-old eighth grader Tianlang Guan from China will be on hand, and Guan will make Masters history as the youngest golfer ever in that storied event. Guan was impressive in winning the Asia Pacific Amateur tournament last November.
Guan will play Thursday with two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw, who collected a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s par three tournament. This year’s Masters tournament will also see the appearance of the exclusive club’s first female members, Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore. But all eyes are going to be on Tiger and Mickelson, as well as a handful of other youngsters and seasoned veterans like Rory McIlroy, a healthy Brandt Snedeker, and Steve Stricker, who will all be competing for the most important championship in golf. Woods has tallied an impressive three wins already this year, and is solidly locked in the number one position in the official world golf rankings.
Looking for his fifth green jacket, Tiger is playing with fellow American Scott Piercy and Englishman Luke Donald in the tournament’s first two rounds, teeing off at 10:45 a.m. Thursday. The 7,435 yard Augusta National layout this year looks to be as tough as ever, and Amen Corner will once again surely prove worthy of its name, as players simply pray to get through the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at the Masters without any significant damage. Mickelson will tee off Thursday with South African Louis Oosthuizen, a former British Open champ. Oosthuizen hit the second most memorable shot of last year’s Masters, earning a double eagle on the par 5 second hole with his second shot.
Without a doubt the best and most memorable shot of the 76th Masters tournament in 2012 went to eventual winner Bubba Watson. The “made for television” wedge shot from the pine straw that traveled in an incredible C-shaped path on the 10th hole will be talked about for ages. Watson hit his 52 degree wedge about 160 yards and then two-putted for par to beat Oosthuizen on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. However, Watson’s “Bubba’s Hover” golf cart has made more of a splash this year than he has, and if the 34 year old lefty is going to go back-to-back for his second green jacket, he will have to create some more Masters magic at Augusta this year.