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The Masters Golf Tournament

The Masters is one of four major championships in men's golf and the first to take place each year. Unlike the other major championships, the Masters is held every year at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private golf club in Augusta, Georgia, USA. The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, who designed Augusta National with legendary course architect Alister MacKenzie.

In line with the other majors, winning the Masters gives a golfer several privileges which make his career more secure. Masters champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the US Open, British Open and the PGA Championship) for the next five years, and earn a lifetime invitation to the Masters. They also receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons and invitations to The Players Championship for five years. In 2006 the prize fund was US$7 million.

History

Bobby Jones saw his involvement in founding the tournament as a service to golf, but demurred at calling it The Masters Tournament, preferring "Augusta National Invitational". That name was used for five years before Jones relented and the present name was adopted in 1939. The first tournament was played with current holes 10 through 18 played as the front nine, and 1 through 9 as the back nine, then reversed permanently to its famous layout for the 1935 tournament.

Gene Sarazen hit "The shot heard 'round the world," holing a shot from the fairway on the par 5 15th for a double eagle to force a playoff in which he won the 1935 Masters. In 1961 Gary Player became the first non-American Masters champion. In 1975 Lee Elder became the first African-American to qualify for the Masters.

European players collected eleven victories in twenty years in the 1980s and 1990s, by far the strongest streak they have had in any of the three majors played in the United States since the early days of the U.S Open. Jack Nicklaus became the oldest player to win the Masters in 1986 when he won for the sixth time at age 46. In 1997 headlines were made around the world when Tiger Woods won the Masters by twelve shots at age twenty-one.

More recently, the club was targeted by Martha Burk, who organized a failed protest at the 2003 Tournament to pressure the club to accept female members.

As with many other courses Augusta National's championship set up has been lengthened in recent years. In 1998 it measured approximately 6,850 yards from the Master's tees but by 2006 it was almost 600 yards longer at 7,445 yards. The 2006 changes attracted many critics, including the three winning most players in Masters history, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. Woods claimed "Shorter hitters are going to struggle". Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson was unperturbed and stated, "We are comfortable with what we are doing with the golf course". After a practice round Gary Player defended the changes saying, "There have been a lot of criticisms, but I think unjustly so, now I've played it.... The guys are basically having to hit the same second shots that Jack Nicklaus had to hit [in his prime]".

Field

The Masters has the smallest field out of the major championships at around ninety players. It is an invitational event, but nowadays invitations are largely issued on an automatic basis to players who meet published criteria and as the top fifty players in the Official World Golf Rankings are all invited none of the leading current players in the world miss out. Past champions are eligible to play, but in recent years the Augusta National Golf Club has discouraged them from continuing to participate at an advanced age. Nevertheless Gary Player played in 2006 at the age of 70.

Invitation categories:

  • Past Masters champions.
  • U.S. Open champions from the preceding five years.
  • British Open champions from the preceding five years.
  • PGA Championship winners from the preceding five years.
  • Winners of the preceding three Players Championships.
  • U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up.
  • British Amateur champion.
  • U.S. Amateur Public Links champion.
  • U.S. Mid-Amateur champion.
  • Top 16 players and ties from prior year's Masters.
  • Top 8 players and ties from the prior year's US Open.
  • Top 4 players and ties from the prior year's Open Championship.
  • Top 4 players and ties from the prior year's PGA Championship.
  • Top 40 players from the prior year's PGA Tour money list.
  • Top 50 players from the prior year's final Official World Golf Ranking.
  • Top 10 players from the current year's PGA Tour money list after the Players Championship (this will need to be revised in 2007 as the Players Championship will be played after the Masters).
  • Special foreign invitations

Green jacket

In addition to a cash award, the winner of the tournament is presented with a distinctive green jacket, awarded since 1949, and highly coveted among professional golfers. The green coat is actually the official coat worn by members of Augusta National while on the club grounds; each Masters winner becomes an honorary member of the club. Winners keep their jacket for the first year after their first victory, then return it to the club to wear during tournament week each following year. The tradition that began in 1949, when Sam Snead was the winner. The Green Jacket is only allowed to be removed from Augusta National by the reigning champion, after which it must remain at the club. The only exception to this rule is Gary Player, who failed to return his jacket after his 1961 victory, despite the club's insistence that he do so.

By tradition, the winner of the previous year's Masters Tournament puts the jacket on the incumbent at the end of the tournament. In 1966, Jack Nicklaus became the first player to win in consecutive years and he donned the jacket himself. When Nick Faldo (in 1990) and Tiger Woods (in 2002) became repeat champions, the chairman of Augusta National put the jacket on them.

Broadcasting

CBS has televised the Masters in every year since 1956, when it used six cameras and covered only the final four holes. By 2006 over fifty cameras were in use. The club awards successive one-year television contracts to CBS and USA Network. As a result, the tournament is able to dictate policies such as referring to the gallery as "patrons" rather than spectators or fans. Gary McCord was excluded from coverage for making remarks about the course which the club found disagreeable. The BBC has had the UK television rights since 1986 and it also provides live radio commentary on the closing stages on Radio Five Live.

The Masters is one of a very small number of tournaments broadcast each year in high-definition television. In 2005, CBS broadcast the tournament with high-definition fixed and handheld wired cameras, as well as standard-definition wireless handheld cameras. Each hour of Masters broadcasting provides only four minutes worth of commercials - something unseen in modern broadcasting (though in the Martha Burke controversy years there were no commercials. In Canada, which shows the same broadcast as the USA does, TSN and Global added their own commercials during the coverage. The weekend simulcast on Global was actually against CRTC policy for signal substitution as the American station was not showing ads). In 2006 a webstream called "Live at Amen Corner" provided coverage of all players passing through holes 11, 12 and 13 through all four rounds. This was the first full tournament multi-hole webcast from a major championship.

Unlike the other majors, the number of hours of television coverage is restricted, perhaps to increase the tournament's Nielsen ratings. Only in the 21st century did the tournament allow CBS to air 18-hole coverage of the leaders, a standard at the other three majors. Only 3 hours of coverage is scheduled for the early rounds on USA Network, although the networks always stay past the allotted times until the end of live golf action on all four days. On American television coverage of the other 3 majors (and The Players Championship) only continues until the end of golf action on Saturday. 2006 was the first year that standard definition television viewers were able to watch early morning action from Augusta, as the 3rd round's conclusion was televised at 8am EDT Sunday on USA Network.

Augusta National does not allow any promos for other network programs, sponsored graphics, blimps, on course announcers or the regular CBS sports graphics template; instead it uses its own guitar-driven soundtrack (notably "Augusta" by Dave Loggins) and a CBS graphic package from several years back, colored green and white and relegating the CBS logo to a small corner shadow, allowing the Masters logo to take precedence.

Ticketing

Tickets for the Masters are hard to come by. Applications for practice round tickets have to be made nearly a year in advance and the successful applicants are chosen by random ballot. Tournament day tickets are sold only to members of a patrons list, which is closed. A waiting list for the patrons list was opened in 1972 and closed in 1978. It was reopened in 2000 and subsequently closed once again.

The tournament has received some criticism due to its requirement that ticket purchasers provide a U.S. Social Security number, a practice which some say is overly intrusive and could increase the chance of identity fraud.

Winners

Year Champion Country To par Margin
2006 Phil Mickelson  United States -7 2
2005 Tiger Woods  United States -12 Playoff (2)
2004 Phil Mickelson  United States -9 1
2003 Mike Weir  Canada -7 Playoff (2)
2002 Tiger Woods  United States -12 3
2001 Tiger Woods  United States -16 2
2000 Vijay Singh  Fiji -10 3
1999 José María Olazábal  Spain -8 2
1998 Mark O'Meara  United States -9 1
1997 Tiger Woods  United States -18 12
1996 Nick Faldo  England -12 5
1995 Ben Crenshaw  United States -14 1
1994 José María Olazábal  Spain -9 2
1993 Bernhard Langer  Germany -11 4
1992 Fred Couples  United States -13 2
1991 Ian Woosnam  Wales -11 1
1990 Nick Faldo  England -10 Playoff (2)
1989 Nick Faldo  England -5 Playoff (3)
1988 Sandy Lyle  Scotland -7 1
1987 Larry Mize  United States -3 Playoff (3)
1986 Jack Nicklaus  United States -9 1
1985 Bernhard Langer  Germany -6 1
1984 Ben Crenshaw  United States -11 1
1983 Seve Ballesteros  Spain -8 4
1982 Craig Stadler  United States -4 Playoff (2)
1981 Tom Watson  United States -8 2
1980 Seve Ballesteros  Spain -13 4
1979 Fuzzy Zoeller  United States -8 Playoff (3)
1978 Gary Player  South Africa -11 1
1977 Tom Watson  United States -12 2
1976 Raymond Floyd  United States -17 8
1975 Jack Nicklaus  United States -12 1
1974 Gary Player  South Africa -10 2
1973 Tommy Aaron  United States -5 1
1972 Jack Nicklaus  United States -2 3
1971 Charles Coody  United States -9 2
1970 Billy Casper  United States -9 Playoff (2)
1969 George Archer  United States -7 1
1968 Bob Goalby  United States -11 1
1967 Gay Brewer  United States -8 1
1966 Jack Nicklaus  United States E Playoff (3)
1965 Jack Nicklaus  United States -17 9
1964 Arnold Palmer  United States -12 6
1963 Jack Nicklaus  United States -2 1
1962 Arnold Palmer  United States -8 Playoff (3)
1961 Gary Player  South Africa -8 1
1960 Arnold Palmer  United States -6 1
1959 Art Wall, Jr.  United States -4 1
1958 Arnold Palmer  United States -4 1
1957 Doug Ford  United States -5 3
1956 Jack Burke, Jr.  United States +1 1
1955 Cary Middlecoff  United States -9 7
1954 Sam Snead  United States +1 Playoff (2)
1953 Ben Hogan  United States -14 5
1952 Sam Snead  United States -2 4
1951 Ben Hogan  United States -8 2
1950 Jimmy Demaret  United States -5 2
1949 Sam Snead  United States -6 3
1948 Claude Harmon  United States -9 5
1947 Jimmy Demaret  United States -7 2
1946 Herman Keiser  United States -6 1
1945 Cancelled due to World War II N/A
1944 Cancelled due to World War II N/A
1943 Cancelled due to World War II N/A
1942 Byron Nelson  United States -8 Playoff (2)
1941 Craig Wood  United States -8 3
1940 Jimmy Demaret  United States -8 4
1939 Ralph Guldahl  United States -9 1
1938 Henry Picard  United States -3 2
1937 Byron Nelson  United States -5 2
1936 Horton Smith  United States -3 1
1935 Gene Sarazen  United States -6 Playoff (2)
1934 Horton Smith  United States -4 1

Numbers in brackets after "Playoff" indicate the number of players involved.

Multiple winners

Sixteen men have won the Masters Tournament more than once through 2006.

  • 6 wins
    • Jack Nicklaus: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
  • 4 wins
    • Arnold Palmer: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964
    • Tiger Woods: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005
  • 3 wins
    • Jimmy Demaret: 1940, 1947, 1950
    • Sam Snead: 1949, 1952, 1954
    • Gary Player: 1961, 1974, 1978
    • Nick Faldo: 1989, 1990, 1996
  • 2 wins
    • Horton Smith: 1934, 1936
    • Byron Nelson: 1937, 1942
    • Ben Hogan: 1951, 1953
    • Tom Watson: 1977, 1981
    • Seve Ballesteros: 1980, 1983
    • Bernhard Langer: 1985, 1993
    • Ben Crenshaw: 1984, 1995
    • Jose Maria Olazabal: 1994, 1999
    • Phil Mickelson: 2004, 2006

Records

Key records through the 2006 Masters:

  • Youngest winner: Tiger Woods (1997) at 21 years 3 months 14 days.
  • Oldest winner: Jack Nicklaus (1986) at 46 years 2 months 23 days.
  • Widest margin of victory: 12 strokes by Tiger Woods in 1997.
  • Most cuts made: 37 by Jack Nicklaus. (The cut was introduced in 1957.)
  • Most consecutive cuts made: 22 by Fred Couples 1984-present. (Fred did not participate in 1997 and 1994 due to health related problems.)
  • Most appearances: 50 by Arnold Palmer from 1955-2004. (Gary Player plans to beat this record , but his appearances will not all be consecutive.)

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