In recent years, Augusta National has taken strides — not running strides, no, that's not permitted, but strides nonetheless — toward 21st-century culture. Not only are there cameras on more than the back nine, but you can watch the Masters on the Internet, just as Bobby Jones always envisioned. Heck, you can even play Augusta National yourself ... in video game form, at least. And, of course, there's that whole "we have women members now" thing. Well done, Augusta.
But one of the grand "we do it our way" traditions to which Augusta National continues to hold fast is the lack of television coverage on Thursday and Friday. On the tournament's first two days, Augusta doesn't permit the TV cameras to light up until 3 p.m. Eastern, and most of the early-morning golfers are long gone by then.
Which is where Tiger Woods comes in. Woods tees off at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, meaning that even given the typical slow play on Masters Thursday, he'll be almost done with his round by the time ESPN comes on the air.
Now, you'll be able to watch some segments of the course on Masters.com, specifically Amen Corner and holes 15 and 16. However, Woods will not be part of either of the featured groups. The morning group will include Peter Hanson, 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel, and reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson. The afternoon group will include K.J. Choi, 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, and Graeme McDowell.
Woods will be part of Friday afternoon's featured group, though he tees off at 1:41 p.m., so most of his round will be on TV then anyway.
Fear not, though, friends; we'll have you covered. We'll be covering Woods live on the course, and while we're not allowed to tweet updates (nobody violates the Augusta cell-phone policy and remains on-course to tell about it), we'll give you a sense of his passage through the front nine, the treacherous 10th, Amen Corner, and on back home.
On Wednesday afternoon, Augusta National chairman Billy Payne gave the answer we all knew he'd give: this is Augusta's show, and while they're glad you're watching, they're going to control how you watch it: "It's an age-old question, how much TV is enough," he said. "We have, through time, expanded a little bit. We know everybody wants more, and we know we're at the beginning of what digital platforms can do for you in terms of having control of your own experience. It's fair to say that one of the tenets that we hold to most dearly is that [The Masters] is limited. Because it is, it makes it a little more special."