Top 10 Things to Know About the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament

In the first week of April, 2012, many of the best golfers from around the world will play in the 76th Masters golf tournament. You may be asking yourself, "What is the Masters and why does it matter?"

Augusta National Golf Course.

Here is a review of the following top 10 things to know will help you be ready, so you can enjoy the event:

What: The Masters is an invitational golf tournament, held annually, featuring most of the best golfers from around the world.

When: The 2012 tournament will begin Thursday, April 5, with 18 holes played on four consecutive days, ending on Sunday, April 8.

Where: The Masters is played at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Ga.

Why Important: The Masters is the first of golf's four major championships on the annual calendar, followed by the U.S. Open in June, the [British] Open Championship in July, and the PGA Championship in August.

Who: Masters of golf who are invited to play include all prior champions of this tournament, winners of the other major tournaments from the last five years, plus PGA Tour event winners from the most recent season. In addition, the U.S. Amateur and Public Links champions are invited. This is not the full list, but gives a fair representation of how players qualify for this tournament.

History: First played in 1934, as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament, the name was changed to the Masters Tournament in 1939. It has been held every year since, except for the war years of 1943-45.

Green Jacket: Since 1937, the Masters champion has received a Green Jacket, which has become one of the most coveted "trophies" in all of sports. Jack Nicklaus has won the most Green Jackets at six, with victories in 1963, '65, '66, '72, '75, and '86 (23 years after his first championship).

Pivotal Holes: Each hole at Augusta National has a name. The 11th, 12th, and 13th, known collectively as Amen Corner, may be the most famous and pivotal holes anywhere in golf. White Dogwood (#11) is a 505-yard par-4, Golden Bell (#12) a 155-yard par-3, and Azalea (#13) a 510-yard par-5. There is water in play on each of these holes, creating risk/reward opportunities, and the past fortunes of many golfers have been determined (success or failure) in this three-hole stretch.

Players to Watch: Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, and Lee Westwood are currently ranked #1, #2 and #3, respectively, in the World Golf Rankings. Tiger Woods (currently ranked #6) was the most dominant player for more than a decade and won four Green Jackets between 1997 and 2005. Phil Mickelson has three recent Green Jackets of his own, in 2004, '06, and '10. The defending champion from 2011 is Charl Schwartzel.

Prediction: On Sunday, April 8, 2012, for the fifth time, the Green Jacket will be awarded to Tiger Woods. This will also be the 73rd career PGA victory in Woods' career, moving him into a tie with Jack Nicklaus for #2 on the all-time wins list, behind only Sam Snead with 82.

Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.


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