Serious athletics fans have the tendency to live their lives by the sports calendar. The dead of winter is somehow warmed by the excitement of the Super Bowl. Fans know they’ve reached the dog days of summer when they’re grasping on to daytime baseball games.
Perhaps the most notable and welcome signal of the change of seasons in the sports world comes the first full week of April, when the hallowed grounds of Augusta National come across our television screens. The camera will pan down Magnolia Lane to reveal the clubhouse, accompanied by birds chirping and piano chords, and somehow, the thaw of spring just doesn’t seem as far away anymore.
Without a doubt, the Masters Tournament holds majesty that is found nowhere else in golf. Some argue that this specific type of magic is not found anywhere else in sports. Much of this intangible aspect is due to the venue, the Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia.
The Masters is the only event of the year on the Professional Golf Association Tour that is played at the same course every year. And why not? Much like the way in which the Masters is an uncommon event, Augusta National is an uncommon space. After all, it is said that co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts did not build the course; they simply found it.
Time and time again fans and professionals alike speak to the feeling that comes every year with the tournament and the space it takes place.
“If the Masters offered no money, I would be here trying just as hard,” golf legend and two-time Masters Champion Ben Hogan said about the tournament, according to ESPN.
While the Masters stands on its own as an almost sacred event, history is made at the event each year. Fans remember and reminisce of years past. Lately, the fans have been deprived of a man who has a knack for making these moments: Tiger Woods.
Many consider Woods’s run from the early 2000s to 2008 to be the greatest stretch of golf ever played. During that period, Woods won an unprecedented 12 majors, including three Masters Tournaments, adding to his win in 1997.
Unfortunately, Woods’s fall from grace has kept him away from the game and his former self for some time now. It was multiple back surgeries, run-ins with the law and infidelity issues that overshadowed his game. It seems that this year has the potential to be different.
Woods claimed to be back to his former self several times since 2012; however, his back surgeries never seem to hold up long enough to give him a chance to make a run.
This season, so far, Woods seems different. He has discussed his spinal fusion surgery as the reason for his play. He feels like his game is as good as it has been in past years, and his play has shown it. In his past two tour events, Woods has had two top five finishes, including a tie for second at the Valspar Championship.
At the Valspar, Woods posted the highest club speed on tour this year. His club speed was something he was known for in the prime of his career. Wood’s come back is happening just in time for the first major of the year. And if there was ever a place to prove that he’s back, it would be at Augusta. The Masters—along with the PGA Championship—is the major tournament that he has won more than any other golfer. Watching Woods will be yet another storyline to look for at the tournament.
The Masters, being the first tournament of the year, rings in a new season of golf. It is a special tournament in which fans and players can gauge the field all while within the hallowed grounds of one of the world’s greatest courses. The rich tradition and stiff competition will prove to be nothing less than past Masters: historic.