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April 5 2013

5:20 PM

First Look: The Masters


Bubba Watson carried on the trend of lefty winners at Augusta with his 2012 victory. (Halleran/Getty Images)

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent 

FIELD LIST: Who’s teeing it up at Augusta National

• COURSE: Augusta National Golf Club, 7,435 yards, par 72. Laid out in 1930 by Bobby Jones and co-designer Alistair Mackenzie, one of the world’s most visually stunning layouts also has provided the stage for some of the game’s most gripping Sunday drama. An expansion era that saw yardage added four times from 1999-2006 has given way to stability, allowing both players and club officials to understand the nuances of the revamped layout. The course’s signature magnolia trees and azaleas are holdovers from the Fruitlands nursery operation previously on the site.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 points.

• CHARITY: Masters Tournament Foundation, which last year distributed $3.5 million to various charities. The Community Foundation of the Central Savannah River Area receives $1.5 million annually, with another $500,000 given to the Salvation Army’s Augusta Kroc Center. Other gifts are granted to the World Golf Foundation, PGA TOUR Charities, U.S. Golf Association, PGA Foundation, The First Tee and others.

• FIELD WATCH: FedExCup and world No. 1 Tiger Woods heads a 93-man field that features 54 of the top 58 players in this week’s Official World Golf Ranking. Shell Houston Open winner D.A. Points and Henrik Stenson were among four players added at last Monday’s almost-last cutoff for qualifying. … One more opening is available for the winner of this week’s Valero Texas Open, if he hasn’t already qualified. … British Open champion Ernie Els returns after failing to qualify last year, his first miss after 18 consecutive invitations. … Seventeen entrants are making their Masters debuts, five of whom are amateurs.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 270, Tiger Woods (1997).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Nick Price (3rd round, 1986), Greg Norman (1st round, 1996).

• LAST YEAR: Bubba Watson’s snap-hooking recovery shot on the second extra hole was worthy of a green jacket, trumping Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross earlier in the afternoon. Watson used four consecutive birdies on Sunday’s back nine to shoot a 4-under 68, drawing him even with Oosthuizen (69) after four rounds. After both parred a replay at No.18, Watson’s tee shot disappeared into the trees right of the 10th fairway. But the mercurial lefty was equal to the challenge -- hooking a wedge onto the putting surface that stopped 15 feet away. Oosthuizen wound up with a bogey after his approach hit short, leaving Watson two putts for his first major title.

• STORYLINES: Woods, with three wins in four stroke-play PGA TOUR starts to begin 2013, is a heavy favorite to end a nearly five-year drought in major championships. Woods has been stuck on 14 majors since his epic 2008 U.S. Open playoff triumph at Torrey Pines. … Tuneup time is up for world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, whose new equipment deal at 2013’s outset has transformed into a rocky adjustment to new sticks. … Watson seeks to become just the fourth back-to-back Masters winner, joining Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-1990) and Woods (2001-02). … China’s 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, winner of last year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur, is set to become the Masters’ youngest participant. Italy’s Matteo Manassero was two years older when he teed it up in 2010.

• SHORT CHIPS: Five of the past 10 Masters have been won by left-handed golfers -- Watson, Phil Mickelson (2004, ’06, ’10) and Mike Weir (2003). … Last year’s playoff was the ninth since the Masters went to a sudden-death format in 1976. None have lasted more than two holes. … Watson is keeping his Tuesday night Champions Dinner menu close to the vest. “There’s gonna be food,” he stated. … This week figures to be the first public appearance for women sporting those official green Augusta National jackets -- new members Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, granted historic membership last fall.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN), highlights show 11:30-11:45 p.m. (CBS). Saturday, 3-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 2-7 p.m. (CBS).

• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, 2 p.m. EDT-conclusion (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio).

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