18 bitesize facts about the US Masters
Excited about the Masters? Lord knows we are. To help get you in the mood, here are 18 bitesize chunks of information about the most famous and most enthralling golf tournament around.
1. It’s fair to say that Jack Nicklaus used to love playing at Augusta. He holds the record for most wins (6), most top five finishes (15), most top ten finishes (22), most career birdies (506) and most career eagles (24).
As well as that he is the oldest ever winner (46 and 2 months in 1986), has finished in second place four times (a record he shares with Ben Hogan and Tom Weiskopf) and recorded the second lowest score for 72 holes (271 – 1965) behind Tiger Woods (270 – 1997).
2. The Golden Bear has played the Masters 45 times, including a run of 40 consecutive appearances between 1959 and 1998, but both records pale in comparison to the number of total appearances – Gary Player (52) and consecutive appearances – Arnold Palmer (50 – 1955-2004)
3. The course record for the Masters is a nine-under par 63, held by Nick Price (1986) and perennial Augusta choker Greg Norman (1996).
4. Conversely, the man who has the distinction of recording the worst ever round at Augusta is poor Billy Casper, who shot a 34-over par 106 as a 73-year old in 2005. His nightmare round included an 11-over par 14 at the par three 16th hole after, Tin Cup like, he hit three balls into the water. Casper actually won the tournament in 1970.
5. The highest four-round total to win the Masters is 289 (+1), shared by Sam Snead (1954), Jack Burke (1956) and Zach Johnson (2007).
6. Three-time winner Phil Mickelson holds the record for the most birdies in a single Masters tournament, having scored 25 birdies over four rounds in 2001. It was good enough for third place.
7. Anthony Kim recorded the highest number of birdies in a single round (11 in 2009), while Tiger Woods (2005) and Steve Pate (1999) share the record for most consecutive birdies (7).
8. In keeping with tradition, Greg Hearmon, the caddy of defending champion Charl Schwartzel will be classed as caddy number 1 this year. The remaining caddies are assigned numbers in order of when they register for the tournament.
9. Until 1982, all players were assigned African-American caddies by Augusta National. African-American members weren’t accepted at the course until 1990. To this day, female members are not accepted.
10. Membership at Augusta is by invitation only. The only professional golfers who are members are Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and John Harris. Extremely wealthy uber-geek Bill Gates is also a member
11. The Masters wasn’t played between 1943 and 1945 because of World War II. During that time, hundreds of cattle and turkeys were raised on the course to assist the war effort while 42 German Prisoners of War worked on the grounds.
The sign no golfer wants to see. Particularly Greg Norman.
12. Despite all the hoopla about Amen Corner, the all-time toughest hole at Augusta is the par-four tenth, followed by two of the holes on Amen Corner, the par-three 12th and the par four 11th.
13. Mobile phones are strictly forbidden within the grounds of Augusta National. Rory McIlroy was left mortified when his went off during a press conference earlier this week, but somehow we don’t think they’re going to kick him out of the tournament.
14. Former US President Dwight Eisenhower had an intimate relationship with Augusta. A top of the range cabin was built in his honour at the course in the 1950s. A tree located to the left of the 17th fairway is reportedly so called because old Dwight hit it so often during his many rounds at the course. He unsuccessfully lobbied to have the tree cut down in 1956.
15. The winner of the Masters each year is in charge of what’s on the menu at the Champions Dinner ahead of the following year’s tournament. Probably the worst dishes on the menu were haggis served by Sandy Lyle and wiener schnitzel served by Bernhard Langer. Yummy.
16. As you may already know, the winner of the par three tournament held on the day before the start of the tournament every year has never won the actual Masters itself. You can pretty much take it as read then, that Padraig Harrington won’t win it this year. Somebody would want to tell him to stop winning the bloody thing, that’s three times he’s come out on top.
17. Jack Nicklaus had the right idea. He never played it and Tiger Woods wouldn’t be its biggest fan either. That’s a six-time and four-time winner we’re talking about. Get the message Paddy?
18. Former Masters Champions have their own separate locker room to tog out in, but it’s not all nostalgia and pats on the back that goes on within. Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson reportedly had a major barney in there in 2005, but what happened in the dressing room stayed in the dressing room as they played together in the final round with little or no problems.