2014 US Masters preview

The US Masters, golf’s quirky showpiece event begins on April 10th at the Augusta National Golf Club, its home since 1934.

It is the 80th year the course has been the home of The Masters, but this is the 78th edition as World War II caused a halt on play from 1943-45.

But this year something will be different, as Tiger Woods will miss the first Masters tournament in his career, dealing another blow in his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus for the most majors in a career.

But even without Tiger Woods, this 78th edition could be a vintage affair with the field that still includes a who’s who of past champions, current top players and impressive amateurs.

The amateurs receive their places as top two of the US Amateur Championship and winners of the British Amateur, US Mid-Amateur, Asia Pacific Amateur and US Amateur Public links.

The big gun

No doubt those qualifying in this way for the Masters will be happy just to get around the famed course without any huge embarrassments, but for the top golfers that will never be enough.

Without Tiger in the mix, the current US Masters 2014 favourites, according to Coral, are Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy.

Both players are priced at 8/1 and for a simple reason; they are two of the finest golfers in the world and they will have high expectations for themselves at Augusta.

Woods is currently agonisingly stuck on 14 major golf tournament wins, four behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus who holds the record of 18 major wins.

The 38-year-old last won a major in 2008 and since his personal issues arose in 2009 he has not looked quite like the player he was.

If he was healthy, the Californian couldn’t be discounted and he was an 8-1 pick to win the tournament before the injury. He is one of the finest golfers of all-time, and undoubtedly the best of his generation.

McIlroy is a little more complex than Woods, as the Northern Irishman has gone through a rough patch of form in the past few months.

Some of this could be attributed to a change in clubs while his high-profile relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki seems to have had an adverse reaction on his profession.

The 24-year old has already won two majors at the US Open and the PGA Championship, but McIlroy will be itching to get many more majors given his superb skillset.

Defending champion Adam Scott seems to be in the mix in every major tournament, and with Woods out he has a real opportunity here to win back-to-back green jackets.

The dark horse contenders

Behind McIlroy in the betting are Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.

At bigger prices these players will still need to be taken seriously. James Day played his part last year with Adam Scott in an epic last day battle for the green jacket just 12 months ago.

Even though Tiger Woods isn’t the same player, losing him opens things up considerably for other golfers. Some of the star power is gone from this year’s Masters, but we still may have a tournament to remember.

  

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Picture of the Day: Beautiful Loredana Ferriolo

We photographed the beautiful Loredana Ferriolo, aka Loredana Jolie, years before she was identified as one of the infamous Tiger Woods mistresses. Here’s a great photo of Loredana as she’s lounging with the sun shining through on her from the window.

loredana jolie ferriolo 07

  

Game Review: “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14″

Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Electronic Arts

Since much doesn’t change in the world of golf (they still use clubs, for instance), it usually takes more than a roster update to justify a new “Tiger Woods” installment each year, making the series one of the perennially fresher entries into the annual sports game genre, as new ideas become an expectation for fans.

“Tiger Woods 12” is a great example of this, as the famed Masters tournament was finally added, and the luster it provided to the game made it arguably the greatest golf experience yet. In comparison, “Tiger Woods 13” added a mode that let you play as a freaky looking child version of Tiger Woods. Suffice to say, it was less successful in providing that same feeling of a complete experience, and golf fans were left with little reason to abandon the 2012 edition. Until now, that is.

Because now comes “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14,” and with it the most complete and engaging translation of the sport of golf to video games the world has seen. The biggest factor contributing to this is the heavy emphasis on golf legends in the game, exemplified with the Legends of the Majors mode. Similar to the historic moments mode in the “NBA2K” games, here you can play through some of the biggest events in golf history, ranging from the dawn of major tournament play in 1860, to the Jack Nicklaus dominance of the 70s, all the way to the Tiger Woods era, and everything in between.

Spanning over 140 years, there’s hardly a major moment that is left out, making the mode an interactive textbook history of golf. It’s also highly enjoyable to attempt to meet the win conditions of each scenario (there are two for each moment), and the variety of the challenges is creatively impressive. Bonus points are awarded for the period accurate clothing and looks, which includes graphical filter changes like sepia tone or Technicolor to make each period uniquely stand out.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

The Golf Round Bucket List: Augusta National Golf Club

Welcome to a new feature where we examine the best golf courses the world has to offer, and daydream about playing them before we die. First up, naturally, is the course that is frequently rated the #1 golf course in the world and the host of the Masters, the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Here are some quick hits on the club and the course.

Open for play: 1934
Membership: The club has around 300 members at all times, and they are selected by invitation only. Dues are said to be around $10,000 per year, as the club makes the majority of its money from hosting the Masters, but despite those relatively affordable dues, you’re not getting an invitation to join unless you’re rich, famous, or politically connected, and you’re not playing the course unless you know one of those 300 people.
Total Length: 7,435 yards, or roughly a mile longer than the course you play on the weekends
Yes, it’s true: There are no women members, though they finally accepted a black member in 1990.

Ryo Ishikawa of Japan hits his tee shot on the third hole during a practice round for the 2011 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT GOLF)

When you watch those helicopter shots of each hole on TV, Augusta doesn’t look like a terribly hazardous course, but thanks to an abundance of trees, undulated greens and tee boxes that are a good 30 yards farther back than they were six years ago, there is scant room for error. Take a look at the green for the seventh hole, Pampas: it’s protected by five (!) bunkers, so if you don’t stick the green, you’re throwing a beach party. Then there is White Dogwood, hole #11, where you need to hit the ball at least 265 yards just to make it to the fairway. The course’s toughest hole, though is the tenth, Camelia. (All holes are named for the trees or plants that line each particular hole.) The back half of the hole slopes downhill though the green is slightly elevated, with a bunker to the right and a monstrous, storm cloud-shaped bunker in the middle of the fairway just before the green. No one wins the Masters on the 10th hole, but lots of people have lost it here.

The hole we’re most eager to play, though, has to be Rosebud, the par-3 16th hole where, in 2005, Tiger Woods made the most spectacular shot we’ve ever seen.

How on earth did he do that? As Verne Lundquist said, never in our lives have we seen such a thing, but here’s hoping that someone makes us take that statement back this weekend.

  

Get your golf groove back

golf driver ball

Spring is definitely in the air, as March Madness has just produced another Duke championship, and the Red Sox and Yankees kicked off the baseball season on Opening Day. It’s even warm now in C-Town after the nasty snowstorm from last week.

Now we have The Masters this week, with Tiger Woods trying to get back his mojo on the most famous golf course in the world. We now know that he previously had an incredible advantage, as he was able to use his babe posse to ensure he never let any sexual frustration or pent up sexual energy impede his game. Can he still perform at peak levels without this constant release? It has to be more difficult now that he isn’t getting any. Not only that, the whole world knows about it and will be reminding him of it for years to come. This week we’ll see just how good he really is.

While watching Tiger and the other golf pros this weekend, you’re bound to get the itch to get back out there yourself. Most of you avid golfers are way ahead of us on this. With that in mind, think about ways you can take your game to the next level this year.

Naturally, much of your focus will be on your swing and whether you can improve your game by upgrading your gear, but spend some time thinking about your own fitness and how that might impact your game. Sure, this isn’t basketball, and you can still do well in this game with your usual beer intake and your growing pot belly, but improving your general fitness, your strength and your flexibility can give you an edge.

Our Fitness Editor, Mike Furci, has two articles in the archives that you should check out as you approach the new golf season. His first article covers the importance of strength training for golfers, particularly exercises that strengthen your lower back. Here’s what Mike said in 2000, well before Tiger sculpted his body and took his game to the next level.

Many golfers I talk with think that injuries like low back pain and shoulder problems are just a part of the game. What if I told you that a strength and conditioning program can cure most of these ailments, and can dramatically improve the risk of experiencing future problems? In addition, a proper program can dramatically improve your game. Many pros, including Nancy Lopez will tell you that their strength and conditioning programs helped their game, and it also saved their careers.

Many top professionals are seeing the benefits of getting into, and staying in top physical condition. Professional golfers are finally looking at themselves for what they are…athletes. That’s right, golfers are athletes. To be successful in what many consider to be a game of frustration and skill, one need’s strength, endurance, balance, coordination, finesse, and timing. These aspects of the game cannot be found in a pro shop. Most people focus on the latest ball or most expensive club to be competitive. They do not look toward their bodies for the answer. These same people with the finest equipment money can buy, can’t walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air.

Mike followed up that article with another that took a closer look at ways you can prevent golf injuries.

So, if you’re happy with your scores, keep guzzling that beer and inhaling those hot dogs. But, if you want to improve your game, and also look a little better in your new golf clothes, forget about the expensive golf clubs and get your ass in shape!

  

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