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Jim Souhan's six things to know about The Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — You don't have to know what a belly wedge is or have tasted pimiento cheese to enjoy The Masters.

It's the first major championship of the golf season (although The Players Championship, played in March, has a better field and should be considered a major), and is the only major played at the same course every year, meaning you can watch Akshay Bhatia play shots from the places as Bobby Jones once did.

For some viewers, The Masters marks the unofficial beginning of Golf Watching Season. Here are six things you might want to know about professional golf in 2024 as Masters week begins:

PGA vs. LIV

Because the PGA Tour bans players who left for the LIV Tour, this will be the first tournament of 2024 featuring players from both leagues. Most of the big names at The Masters will do formal interviews on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to hear whether the LIV players admit to missing the prestige and competition of the PGA Tour, and whether PGA Tour players miss the heightened attention and competition the best LIV players once brought to the traditional tour.

Yes, Tiger is here

Tiger Woods is in the field and practiced at Augusta National on Sunday and Monday. He won The Masters in a stunning upset in 2019 at the age of 43, becoming the second-oldest to win the tournament. He has 15 career majors, three shy of Jack Nicklaus, and is one shy of Nicklaus' record of six Masters titles.

Woods winning again at the age of 48 would become the story of the sports year, but it's not likely. He almost had his right leg amputated after a single-car wreck in February of 2021. In the 2022 Masters, he finished 47th. In the 2023 Masters, he missed the cut.

There is one local angle

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa played golf for the Gophers. His caddy, Alex Gaugert, did, too. Last year, Gaugert qualified for the 3M Open at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine and competed against his boss.

Rahmbo is back

Jon Rahm is the defending champion, and has said that his victory at the 2023 Masters helped him decide to leave the PGA Tour for LIV, because the Masters victory gave him an automatic berth in the next five Masters no matter what happens with the new tour.

Rahm outplayed 54-hole leader Brooks Koepka in the final round last year to win his second major.

Scheffler's putting

Scottie Scheffler is the current world No. 1 and has dominated the PGA Tour this season. In his past three starts he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, became the first player ever to repeat at The Players Championship, and finished tied for second at the Texas Houston Children's Open before taking last week off.

He is dominating the tour from tee to green, his only apparent weakness being his inconsistent putting.

Augusta National is popular

The crowds at Augusta National on Monday were massive. The lines to get into the merchandise shop were longer than any lines at Disney. Pro golf's popularity is being challenged by the LIV-PGA split, but you wouldn't know it here.