The Masters finally arrives, and Athens, Ala., will be there

Apr. 11—The Masters is finally here and it seems the rest of the golf world all but shuts down. The Sunshine Tour in South Africa and the Japan and Korea LPGA circuits are the only major tours in action this week. Augusta National hosts all the top players for the first time since the British Open last July. That's a product of all the defections to LIV Golf. There are 13 players from the Saudi-funded league who are playing the Masters.

Defending champion Jon Rahm from Spain will be back amid the azaleas to defend his title. However, Scottie Scheffler, who has two wins on the PGA Tour already this season, is the odds-on favorite to win, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Scheffler is ranked No. 1 in the world and won the Masters in 2022.

Still, it's anyone's game, and participating players have ties to most states and 20 countries — and that includes Athens, Ala.'s, Lee Hodges.

Former University of Alabama golfer Hodges, an Ardmore native who now lives in Athens, turned pro in 2018. He won the 2020 WinCO Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour and had 15 Top-25 finishes at that time to earn his first PGA Tour card.

Hodges joined the tour in 2022, and according to, has made 49 of 80 cuts and won one PGA Tour event — the 2023 3M Open — finished third once, had two Top 5 finishes and five Top 10 finishes.

So far in 2024, he's played in 11 tour events with two Top 25 finishes, making six out of 11 cuts.

The Masters takes place at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., from April 11-14, and the first two rounds of the tournament will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 2 p.m. CT, while CBS will cover the final two rounds on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT and Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The tournament can also be livestreamed on ESPN+, Paramount+ and Fubo+.

The details: Augusta National Golf Club, The Masters

Site: Augusta, Georgia.

Course: Augusta National GC. Yardage: 7,555. Par: 72.

Prize money: TBA ($18 million in 2023).

Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6:30 p.m. (ESPN); Saturday, 2-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (CBS), all times CT.

Defending champion: Jon Rahm.

Notes: The Masters is the first time all the major champions over the last five years are competing together since the British Open last July. ... Jon Rahm will try to join Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners. ... Rory McIlroy tries for the 10th time to complete the career Grand Slam. The last to do it was Woods, who added the last leg at the British Open in 2000 on his first try. ... Among the newcomers to the Masters are U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and Ludvig Aberg, the No. 9 player in the world. The last player to win the Masters on his first attempt was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. ... Woods has played only 24 holes in one tournament going into the Masters. ... Scottie Scheffler is the biggest betting favorite at the Masters since Tiger Woods in 2013. ... Clark and Scheffler (twice) are the only winners this year who were among the Top 10 in the world when they won.