Tiger Woods looks to win his fifth green jacket

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

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It’s April and that means one thing: the Masters. One of the greatest golf tournaments to be played on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, the Masters comes around this time every year. This year the field of competition is stacked with names like: Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and one of the greatest golfers to play the sport, Tiger Woods.

Dating back to 1934, the Masters has been on the big stage of sports. The course itself was founded by one of the greatest amateur golfers Bobby Jones. Jones beat names like Walter Hagen and Gene Serazen, both of whom played golf as a profession. Jones only played golf part-time, working as a lawyer when he wasn’t golfing. Most well-known for winning the Grand Slam of his time, Jones won both the amateur U.S. Open and the Open Championship along with the professional equivalents in 1930. It was after this year that Jones retired from the sport. He had always dreamed of owning his own golf course and started to make that a reality early into his retirement. He purchased the land that the Augusta National golf course sits on in 1931. The Masters first started in 1934, under the name Augusta National Invitational. The tournament drew the top players in the world from the start, partially because of Jones being behind the event. To help solidify its spot as a major tournament, Jones agreed to come out of retirement to play in the tournament which helped to draw more and more people, players and spectators alike.

Spanning the normal four days it takes to complete a golf tournament, the Masters takes place in Augusta, Ga. The Masters has seen some fierce duels throughout the years, including Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1975, but one of the more recent ones in memory was between Woods, David Duval and Mickelson in 2001. Woods led by one stroke heading into Sunday, with Mickelson sitting right behind him. After bogeying the first hole, Woods managed to gain the stroke back, tying Mickelson at 12 under. The pair would stay within a stroke of each other the entire front nine with Woods leading by a stroke. Once the leaders reached the back nine, momentum started to shift a bit.

Duval started out the day three strokes behind Woods, but managed to trail only by a stroke, alongside Mickelson, going into the back nine. Duval started out the back nine by birdieing the hole drawing even with Woods. Woods responded with a birdie of his own on hole 11, while Mickelson bogeyed, dropping him a couple of strokes. However, Woods would then give back the stroke he gained with a bogy on the following hole, making him and Duval all square heading into hole 12. Duval parred the hole, leaving Woods with a birdie opportunity. Woods managed to step up and nail his birdie put, once again pulling ahead. Duval wasn’t quite done yet, however, and he rallied for his own birdie at 15. That would be the end for Duval, as he would bogey the following hole and lost to Woods by two strokes. That victory for Woods would be one of the greatest accomplishments in golf history as Woods managed to win his own Grand Slam. Though not in a calendar year, Woods managed to win the U.S. Open, The Open, The Players and finally the Masters. He would be the first player to complete the Grand Slam since Jack Nicklaus.

Growing up, I remember my dad going downstairs taking over the television so he could watch the Masters. Which, as a kid, made me think he was crazy. I thought golf was boring. I mean, there was no physicality between golfers, and it wasn’t a team sport. However, now that I’m in college I can see where he was coming from. Golf is a sport that anyone can play at any age. Just like anything, if you want to be good at golf you have to practice, but it is the only sport where anybody, and I mean anybody, can stop what they are doing, pick up some clubs and have a chance at winning. The Masters allows a person to watch a tournament that, if they truly wanted to, they could qualify for. The Masters also lets you watch some of the greatest golfers in the world come together, and they either play well on a really difficult course or they play bad on a really good course. Take a look at Spieth from 2016. After finishing the front nine on his final round with four straight birdies, Spieth looked poised to repeat as the tournament champion. However, being the human he is, Spieth blew his five stroke lead after receiving a quadruple bogey, that is four strokes above par, on the 12th hole. This is the perfect example of how even some of the greatest golfers can look human.

Going into this year’s Masters, I hope we get to see Woods claim another Green Jacket. It has been too long since Woods has won the Masters, or even another major tournament for that matter. I think the best thing for golf this weekend is that Woods manages to remain relevant throughout the event. Whether you like him or not, golf is more noticeable and more fun when Woods is relevant during a major tournament.

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