But are about to.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)
• Number of countries represented at this year’s Masters: 21.
• Jack Nicklaus was just 25 when he won his third green jacket. Tiger was 26. (So, Rory, you got some catching up to do if you want to get on a platform with those guys.)
• The Masters tournament was canceled from 1943–1945 due to World War II. When it resumed in 1946, a guy with the eerily World War II-sounding name Herman Keiser won.
• Bobby Jones played in the tournament he created 11 times but never managed to finish better than 13th.
• Since turning 50 in 2009, Freddie Couples has finished sixth, 15th, and 12th at Augusta. As the top 16 players qualify for the following year’s Masters, the perennial crowd favorite has earned his way into the field each year without having to rely on his lifetime exemption for winning in 1992.
• Augusta National has a name for each of its holes (No. 8 is Yellow Jasmine; No. 12, Golden Bell). Raise your hand if you find that a tad douchey. Though, for some reason, we kind of like the name of No. 17: Redbud.
• Greatest improvement within one Masters tournament: 16 strokes. In 1986, after a lousy 79 in the first round, Zimbabwean Nick Price somehow managed to make the cut, carding a 69 on Friday. Then on Saturday he went out and shot a record 63 to play his way into the final group on Sunday.
• Sam Snead has many impressive Masters stats, including three wins, 15 top 10s, a top 30 finish when he was 60, followed by a top 20 when he was 61. But here’s our favorite: At the 1942 Masters, he wasn’t feeling comfortable with his game, so he played nine holes barefoot.
• For his six Masters victories, Jack Nicklaus earned a total of $269,000. That’s $1,000 more than Ian Poulter banked for finishing seventh last year.
• Hootie vs. Hootie: The 2002 protest against Augusta’s male-only membership policy pitted then-chairman Hootie Johnson against women’s rights activist Martha Burke, who, ironically, was also nicknamed Hootie growing up. Fortunately the pair were able to bury the hatchet over drinks and karaoke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFgXmNxVSnE
• The Greg Norman Saga:
In perhaps the most monumental collapse in Masters history, Norman blew a six-shot Sunday lead, paving the way for Nick Faldo steal the green jacket. Still Greg has this to hang his hat on: We’re pretty sure he’s the only guy ever to shoot a 78 on Sunday and still finish solo second.
In any event, the Masters is full of hard-luck stories. Like the guy who birdied holes 14 through 17 in 1986 to tie Jack Nicklaus for the lead, only to bogey from the center of the fairway on 18 and lose. Wait, that was Greg Norman. Then in a playoff the following year, some poor chump was mentally preparing his green jacket speech, when he got totally Munsoned by Larry Mize’s ridiculous hole-out from 50 yards. Hell, that was the Shark, too. In 1989, Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch were waiting for the third member of their playoff group to tidy up on 18, but the guy flinched and missed his par putt. And it was…Ah, you know.
Greg Norman epilogue: April is the cruelest month for the Great White Shark. That’s when he can’t exercise a lifetime exemption to compete in the Masters. Because no green jacket bearing his name hangs in the clubhouse. Somehow he managed never to win the tournament despite being so close so many times. But we like Greg Norman, so we were happy when he finished tied for third at the 2008 British Open, thereby earning his way into the 2009 Masters. Unfortunately he missed the cut.
Maxim Handicaps The Masters
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