The Masters 2013 Means Spring Is Here

Courtesy of Cory Biggs, executive director of The First Tee of Central Arkansas


Ah, the Masters 2013!  Magnolia Lane.  Azaleas in bloom.  Lush fairways and perfectly manicured bentgrass greens.  The immaculately simple, white clapboard clubhouse.  It all adds up to perhaps the most picturesque experience in all of sport.  Augusta National Golf Club, ladies and gentlemen, is what high definition was made for.  Did we mention that they play golf there, too?

Do they ever.  From Gene Sarazen’s “shot heard ‘round the world” to the roars of Arnie’s Army; from the Golden Bear raising that putter on the 17th in ’86 to the (Not So) Great White Shark’s epic final round collapse a decade later, the Masters is where seemingly all of golf’s most historic moments have occurred.  It’s where we’ve come to know our favorite players by a single name:  Seve, Freddy, Tiger, Phil, and just last year, Bubba.

This year’s Masters 2013 field is all but set, and we at The First Tee of Central Arkansas can’t wait for the traditional honorary tee shots to get things going on Thursday.  Let’s go ahead and say it up front.  If Tiger doesn’t win his fifth green jacket, we’re all gonna be shocked.  Defending champ Bubba Watson was recently asked by Piers Morgan if he felt he could beat Tiger this time around.  “Hopefully he gets sick,” joked Watson, “I don’t think anybody knows how to beat him.”

If you’re the type of person that prefers to bet the field, you’ll want to take note of the fact that in this year’s first 14 PGA Tour events there were exactly zero winners hailing from anywhere other than the good ole U.S. of A.  And there are plenty of formidable young guns in the American camp, from major champion Keegan Bradley to this year’s WGC Match Play winner Matt Kuchar.  Other contenders include the sneaky good Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, who’s trying to bounce back from a rib injury, and big hitting Dustin Johnson, relatively quiet since winning the first stop of the PGA Tour season in Hawaii.

Still, can you really discount all the international faces within the smallest field of any of the four majors?  Recently dethroned World Number One and two-time major winner Rory McIlroy has been… well, terrible… so far this year, but his talent is second only to Tiger’s.  Northern Ireland’s other favorite son, former U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell certainly has the game to be the name at the top of those classic leaderboards on Sunday evening.  A trio of Englishmen—Luke Donald, Justin Rose, and Ian Poulter, who thinks he can beat anyone anywhere—are poised to threaten.  And we don’t think there’s anyone who isn’t secretly rooting for Sergio Garcia to finally break through at a major.

Among other internationals, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, architect of perhaps the greatest golf shot ever captured on live television—his double eagle on the second hole of the final round of last year’s Masters—will be back.  Perhaps the most interesting subplot of the week could emerge from 14-year old Guan Tianlang of China, the youngest competitor in tournament history, if he can make the cut and hang around for the weekend.  Though we wouldn’t go so far as to pick him to win, one name we would expect you may become more familiar with by the time the dust settles is that of Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen.  Olesen cracked the top 10 at last year’s British Open, and it should be fun watching him tackle Augusta for the first time.

Of course, the Masters is also where you can count on one or two wily veterans making one more (one last?) run at glory.  Who will it be this time around?  Is Steve Stricker long enough for this 7,445-yard behemoth of a golf course?  Can Fred Couples, one of 19 past Masters winners in this year’s field, dig deep for a little more magic around Amen Corner?  Do we get to count Phil Mickelson or Stewart Cink as members of the “wily veterans club” just yet?  How about Tom Watson?  Go ahead and laugh, but wouldn’t that be fun?

Our fun will start on Thursday as The First Tee hosts the 5th Annual “A Day at the Masters,” benefitting our life-changing youth development programming.  The festivities begin at 12:00 with a par 3 contest and last through the evening with a live broadcast of the day’s action from Augusta, Masters-style food and beverage, and both a live and silent auction.  You can still sign up today for your own two-person team in the par 3 contest for just $250, and we welcome all to join us for the reception (set to start at 6:00) with tickets, only $50, available at the door.  Call 562-GOLF or visit now!

The First Tee’s Staff Picks for the Masters 2013:

Brad Martin, Director of Golf – “Tiger.”

Monica Brown, Program Director – “Tiger. Enough said.”

Jacob Coleman, Executive Assistant – “I think Tiger’s got a shot to win multiple majors this year, and it all starts with adding another green jacket to his wardrobe.  In the non-Tiger category, I think this course fits Keegan Bradley’s game.”

Cory Biggs, Executive Director – “Wanna hear a crazy pick? Hunter Mahan captures his first major title.”

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