The Masters at Augusta National

by : Tracy Patton

The Masters Tournament held at Augusta National started March 22, 1934. At the time Bobby Jones objected to this name and Augusta National Invitation Tournament was used until 1939, which is when Jones finally conceded to make the name The Masters Tournament official. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts started this annual event to provide a service to golf by hosting the event. Jones originally did not want to compete in the tournament, but later changed his mind after persuasion from the Club's members. Jones best finish was 13th in 1934. In 1940 the Masters was scheduled for the first full week in April of each year, and has been a tradition since.

Horton Smith was the first tournament winner in 1934, starting many great golf moments in history. In 1935 Gene Sarazen hit the infamous "the shot heard 'round the world" scoring a double eagle on the par 5 15th hole, tying Craig Wood and forcing a playoff. The following day Sarazen won the 36-hole playoff by 5 strokes. In 1942 Byron Nelson defeated Ben Hogan 69-70 in an 18-hole playoff. The following three years (1943, 1944, & 1945) during the war were not played. Instead Augusta National grounds were used to raise cattle and turkeys to assist in the war effort.

When playing of tournament commenced in the 1950's it included two victories for Ben Hogan and the first of four for Arnold Palmer. Palmer's 1958 win began the tradition of . The same year sports writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote: "On the afternoon before the start of the recent Masters golf tournament, a wonderfully evocative ceremony took place at the farthest reach of the course -down in the Amen Corner where Rae's Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green." In 1960 the Par 3 Contest was begun, and in 1965-1966 Jack Nicklaus became the first Masters Champion to defend his title successfully. During the 1970's both Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts passed away leaving behind a legacy that would be carried on. In the 1980's Spaniard Steve Ballesteros won twice and Tom Watson captured his second title. In 1986 at age 46, Jack Nicklaus won his 6th Green Jacket. The year 1997 started the Tiger Woods phenomenon. That year Woods broke the Tournament's four-day scoring record that had stood for 32 years. At the 2001 Masters, Woods won his 4th consecutive professional major, and in 2002 became only the 3rd player to win consecutive Masters titles. In 2003 Mike Weir becomes the first Canadian to win a Major, and the first left-hander to take the Masters. Phil Mickelson wins his first Masters in 2004 with a birdie on the 72nd hole. In 2005 Woods became the 3rd person to win at least four Tournaments. Again in 2006 Phil Mickelson captured his second win with a two-stroke victory. In 2007 Tiger Woods found the water twice in Amen Corner, damaging his chances for a third consecutive major title, eventually losing to Zach Johnson.

With the 2008 Masters Tournament marking the 50th Anniversary of Arnold Palmers first Master's victory, which player will be this year's champion? Will Tiger avoid the water at Amen Corner this year? This will be Woods pursuit of his 5th Masters victory, can he pull it off with so many good competitors such as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, Stewart Cink, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, and Mark O'Meara all aiming for the Green Jacket.