Every week on our Google+ Friday Foursome Hangout, moderator Ricky Potts asks guests during the Lightning Round, which major is their favorite every year? With little exception the answer is The Masters. With that being said, it is only 15 days until Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit those traditional first tee shots in the early morning fog at Augusta National. I can’t wait!
Without a doubt, the biggest question in every conversation around golf is the health of the sports biggest star. Will Tiger Woods be able to play? Even during his knee problems and marital indiscretions Tiger has never missed a Masters since finishing as the low amateur in 1995, winning four times beginning with his first in 1997. He missed the cut only once, and that came at his first visit as a Pro in 1996.
As the PGA Tour moves to Texas for the next two weeks for The Valero Texas Open, and The Shell Houston Open there are very few questions left to be answered as to the field. The Valero Texas Open is the last opportunity to make the field by being in the top 50 on Official World Golf Rankings, winners of both events will get invitations if they don’t already have one.
Throughout the history of the event, the officials at Augusta have tried to keep the elite field below 100 players. There is very little drama at this point for making the 2014 field. The only two players who can move into the top fifty this week are Chesson Hadley, and Ryan Palmer. Hadley and Palmer are ranked 56 and 62 respectfully.
South Africans Richard Sterne at 53 and George Coetzee at 55 are close enough to earn a spot with a good finish in San Antonio this week, but are not in the field. On the bubble at 50 is Russell Henley who gets an automatic bid by winning at PGA National a month ago.
The world’s number two, Adam Scott missed out on an excellent chance on Sunday to grab the number one spot away from an ailing Tiger Woods as the tour moves into Augusta, but was unable to get it done as he lost a 54-hole, seven-shot lead to newcomer, Matt Every. The drama over the number one ranking will continue if Tiger is unable to play for a while. Lurking not too far back is 2013 FedEx Cup and Race To Dubai Champ, Henrik Stenson who is currently third, and starting to find the form that won a lot of money in 2013.
As you are getting ready for one of the world’s most popular golf tournament, I want to bring your attention to a book I am reading that I recommend for every avid golf fan.
The Magnificent Masters
The highlight of the book features the 1975 Masters which saw the first African-American player Lee Elder, at Augusta and an epic made-for television battle between Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, and Tom Weiskopf.
I’ll save you a trip to Google, Lee Elder missed the cut, and Jack won his 5th Green Jacket. The field in 1975 was packed with future Hall of Famers that included Arnie, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Sam Snead, and many more.
Although the book features the 1975 event, it also contains a rich history of The Masters Tournament and everything that surrounds it. It begins with the formal invitation that a 19 year-old Jack Nicklaus received in 1959 as he was preparing to attend Ohio State University.
I’ll have to admit, this tournament hits pretty close to home. In 1975 I was a 28 year-old who thought golf was a dumb game played by rich people. I saw this tournament on television, was on a pitch and putt the next week, and was hooked for life.
The book is 320 information packed pages, is available in Hardcover and paperback versions. If you want to learn about the The Masters, this is your book.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+