The U.S. Masters takes place this week at Augusta National Golf Club. Patrick Reed is the defending champion in the first men’s Major Championship of 2019.
US Masters Preview 2019
Brritish golfers celebrate the start of the golfing season proper this week as the US Masters encourages thousands to dust off the clubs and head back to the fairways. As ever, a great field has assembled at Augusta National to contest the 83rd Masters.
The 2019 US Masters looks set to be a thriller. A number of players come into the event showing excellent form, making it very difficult to pick a winner. Rory McIlroy (opens in new tab) is favourite with most bookmakers amongst the 87 starters. He recently won The Players Championship (opens in new tab) and has shown in the past that he has the game to tame the course at Augusta. The Northern Irishman is making a fifth attempt to complete the career grand slam by claiming a green jacket.
Other hopes from the UK include Paul Casey (opens in new tab) who completed a successful defence of his Valspar Championship title (opens in new tab) at the end of March, Tommy Fleetwood (opens in new tab) who has shown fine form on the PGA Tour through the Florida swing and Justin Rose (opens in new tab) – a runner-up at Augusta two years ago and in 2015.
Elsewhere, Tiger Woods (opens in new tab) is aiming to claim a fifth Masters title and Phil Mickelson (opens in new tab) is looking to become the oldest ever Masters champion, aged 48 – Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he triumphed in 1986.
There’s a great amateur tradition at Augusta and this year there will be six amateurs in the field. They are: Jovan Rebula (winner of the Amateur Championship,) Devon Bling and Viktor Hovland (top two finishers in the U.S. Amateur,) Takumi Kanaya (winner of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship,) Alvaro Ortiz (winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship) and Kevin O’Connell (winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship).
The last players to make their way into the field were Shane Lowry and Justin Harding, who made it into the top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking, and Corey Conners who won last week’s Valero Texas Open (opens in new tab).
Played over the same course each year and packed with tradition and character, The Masters is, perhaps, the most iconic tournament in world golf. Since it was first held in 1934, it’s been won by many of the greats of the game. Sarazen, Snead, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Watson, Ballesteros, Faldo and Woods have all won here. To don the famous green jacket is a must if a player is to earn legendary status within the game. Last season it was Patrick Reed who came out on top (opens in new tab). He finished one clear of Rickie Fowler (opens in new tab).
Augusta is a challenging course, particularly for those without experience around the layout. It’s a track where a strategic approach is essential and knowledge of where the ball will feed in from, and away to, is key to success.
The weather forecast isn’t great. Rain is expected on Friday and Saturday with potential thunderstorms on Sunday - check out the full US Masters Weather Forecast (opens in new tab).
Venue: Augusta National GC, Augusta, Georgia Date: April 11-14 Course stats: par 72, 7,435 yards Purse: $11,000,000 Defending champion: Patrick Reed (-15)
How to watch The Masters
TV Coverage: Wednesday 10 (Par-3 comp live) – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm Thursday 11 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8pm Friday 12 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 10pm Saturday 13 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8pm Sunday 14 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm
Check out the full Sky and BBC US Masters TV Coverage (opens in new tab)
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Players to watch:
There are so many contenders this year with so many of the world’s best on good form coming into the event. The focus will be on the star names – Rory, Tiger, DJ, et al. but who might just spring a surprise?
Henrik Stenson (opens in new tab) – The Swede endured a tough run at the start of this season but in his last start – the Match Play, he showed the type of golf in his match against an on-form Jim Furyk that saw him lift the 2016 Claret Jug. Has he found something at just the right time… Perhaps.
Kevin Kisner (opens in new tab) – The Match Play winner should come into the event full of confidence. He’s never missed the cut at Augusta.
Si-Woo Kim (opens in new tab) – The South Korean has proven with his 2017 Players win that he can step up in big events. He played well in San Antonio last week and was top-25 at Augusta last year.
Key Hole: 11th. At 505 yards, this par 4 is one of the most difficult holes on the course. The hole demands a solid drive then a good second shot to a green that turns to the left and is protected short and left by a pond. Look for the majority of approach shots to bail out to the right-hand side here.
The 11th marks the start of Amen Corner and can act as a springboard for a famous Augusta, back nine charge. Make a solid par here and a player might well press on to make birdies, drop a shot or two and they could be on the back foot – never a good place to be at Augusta.
Skills required: Short game. Augusta is a course famed for its viciously sloping and lightning-fast putting surfaces. The challenging run-off areas and green surrounds mean that only those with the sharpest chipping, pitching and putting skills will contend.
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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