Published April 02, 2012
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – PGA TOUR - MASTERS TOURNAMENT, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia - The major championship season kicks off this week for the men as 97 players will tee off Thursday at The Masters.
The hype for this major seemed to start as soon as Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championships last August. And there is plenty to talk about heading into this tournament.
Tiger Woods won his first event in over two years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and seems to have his grove back. Phil Mickelson, like Woods, always seems to contend at Augusta.
Hunter Mahan won the Houston Open on Sunday and is now the top-ranked American in the world. Rory McIlroy may have blown this event last year, but he romped to victory at the U.S. Open last year and has top-five finishes in all five of his starts this season.
Then, of course, there is the defending champion, Charl Schwartzel. The South African has three top-fives this year, but also has missed three cuts, including his last two.
Woods is the last player to repeat as winner at The Masters, when he won in 2001-02.
Schwartzel became the first player to ever birdie the final four holes and win the green jacket last year. He became the story thanks to a closing 66, but the final round was a wild ride.
McIlroy was in the lead on the 10th tee, then hit his tee shot near one of the cabins on the course and never recovered. World No. 1 Luke Donald was in the mix along with Woods, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy and others.
The final round saw eight different players own at least a piece of the lead. Woods fired a five-under 31 on the front nine to find himself tied atop the leaderboard.
Scott moved in front with a birdie on 14, but Schwartzel made a late charge. He got up and down for birdie on 15, then rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on 16 to tie Scott.
Schwartzel birdied 17 from 10 feet out, then closed out the victory in style as he ran home an 18-footer for birdie and the win.
The victory was on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player's first Masters title. Schwartzel was the second player in the last 21 years to win The Masters from outside the final pairing.
The par-three contest will take place on Wednesday and no player has won that event and The Masters in the same year.
ESPN has coverage the first two days, while CBS takes over for the final two rounds.
The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina next week for the RBC Heritage. Brandt Snedeker fired a 64 in the final round last year, then parred the third playoff hole to defeat Donald to win the title.
SOBOBA GOLF CLASSIC, The Country Club at Soboba Springs, San Jacinto, California - The Nationwide Tour will be playing opposite The Masters for the first time since 2002.
Ted Potter, Jr. won this event last year when it was played in September. He closed with a 66, then birdied the second hole to defeat Miguel Angel Carballo and Andres Gonzales.
The victory was Potter's second on the Nationwide Tour, however he will not be on hand to defend his title.
This will be the fourth year of the event. Jerod Turner, the 2009 winner, is the only past champion in the field.
There is no television this week.
The Nationwide Tour remains in California next week for the TPC Stonebrae Championship. Daniel Chopra was declared the winner last year when the final round was canceled after a long fog delay.