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Masters 2013: Complete Guide to This Year's Augusta National

James McMahonContributor IApril 8, 2013

Masters 2013: Complete Guide to This Year's Augusta National

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    It comes only once a year, and when it does, golf fans grab it with a passion and hold on for four exciting days of major championship drama.

    Masters week 2013 has arrived, and on April 10, the real action begins as famed Augusta National welcomes the finest golfers in the world for the 77th time.

    As is always the case with golf’s first major of the year, the contenders are numerous, the dark horses are lurking, the storylines are unfolding and the star—Augusta National itself—is ready to take on the world’s best players.

    Here’s a guide to preparing for all the action that starts Wednesday, heats up Thursday and builds to a huge Sunday finish.

The 2013 Masters Viewing Guide—Online and on the Tube

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    It used to be difficult to see enough Masters action on television to satisfy the craving for the event. But with increased coverage and the addition of online video, things have gotten considerably better.

    So fire up your laptop, tablet and smart phone and get the TiVo ready. It's time to enjoy the action at Augusta National.

     

    On the Internet—Masters.com

    Thursday and Friday

    10:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Amen Corner live coverage

    11:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Live Coverage of the 15th and 16th holes

    Noon to 7:30 p.m.: Featured Group 1 and Featured Group 2 live coverage

     

    Saturday and Sunday

    11:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Amen Corner live coverage

    12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Live Coverage of the 15th and 16th holes

    12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Featured Group 1 and Featured Group 2 live coverage

     

    On TV

    Wednesday

    3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: The Par 3 Contest, ESPN

     

    Thursday and Friday

    11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Live Masters on the Range, CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Live coverage of first and second rounds, ESPN

     

    Saturday

    11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Live Masters on the Range, CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Live third-round coverage, CBS

     

    Sunday

    11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Live Masters on the Range, CBS Sports Network

    2 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Live final-round coverage, CBS

The Par 3 Contest: A Masters Tradition

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    Considering its very existence is a tradition unlike any other, it's only logical that the Masters would stage a contest so unique and special as the Par 3 Contest.

    The competition, which is aired live on ESPN from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, features past greats and current stars playing Augusta’s nine-hole course with their kids on the bag and dressed in the traditional caddie whites. 

    The event affords golf fans the opportunity to see legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in a friendly competition with current professionals such as Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar. 

The Top 2013 Masters Storylines

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    14-year-old Tianlang Guan

    The Chinese golfer is the youngest player ever to tee it up in the Masters, and it's likely the first of many times we will see this talent at Augusta National. It’s open to debate whether 14 is too young for the pressure of the Masters, but come Thursday, Guan’s play will provide the answer either way.

    Tiger Woods vs. Rory McIlroy

    Will the rivalry everyone is hoping for get its roots this weekend at Augusta National? Tiger is hot and took Rory’s World No. 1 ranking. Rory has struggled, but he appears to be finding his footing. Should both play well, this will be THE story of the 2013 Masters.

    Tiger Woods Goes for Five 

    Woods trails Jack Nicklaus in more than just overall majors; he sits two behind The Golden Bear in green jacket count as well. A victory this week would put Woods alone in second with five Masters titles (one ahead of Arnold Palmer) and would get him to within three of Nicklaus’ record 18 major titles.

    Think Jack hears the footsteps?

The 2013 Masters Favorites

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    Tiger Woods

    This one’s a shocker, right? Not only does Tiger already own four green jackets, but he enters this week’s tournament playing his best golf since 2009. Woods is putting lights-out, driving the ball with more accuracy and is dialed in with his irons. That combination doesn't promise good things for the rest of the field.

    Rory McIlroy

    If Sunday’s performance at the Valero Texas Open is any indication, McIlroy is finding his game at just the right time and is poised to make a run at winning his first green jacket and regaining the World No. 1 ranking Tiger swiped from him several weeks ago.

    Lee Westwood

    Call it a hunch, but Westwood’s play has been solid lately, and the Englishman has had a number of strong showings the past several years at Augusta National, including last year’s tie for third. On the doorstep of 40, there’s no doubt Westwood feels the pressure to claim that elusive first major championship sooner rather than later.

    Don’t Forget

    Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell.

The 2013 Masters Dark Horses

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    Fred Couples

    Yes, Freddie is on the shadow side of 50, but he has played like anything but a senior tour player the past several years at Augusta National. Including an impressive sixth-place finish in 2010, Couples has defied Father Time by finishing in the top 15 each of the past three years (augusta.com).

    Hunter Mahan

    One of the finest American golfers without a major championship title, Mahan has played well at Augusta National in recent years, posting three top-12 finishes since 2009 (augusta.com). A strong Sunday finisher, Mahan has the ability to go low, which he may need to do Saturday or Sunday to challenge the favorites.

    Sergio Garcia

    The enigmatic Spaniard has worked hard to improve his putting and currently ranks 16th on the PGA Tour after five events. If Garcia can find the fairway off the tee (ranks 75th in driving accuracy), his strong iron play will provide him a chance to win a first major come Sunday afternoon.

Augusta National's Most Critical Holes

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    The Par-Five Eighth Hole

    This is the momentum builder for every round played at Augusta National. As it did for Charl Schwartzel in 2011, an eagle on this hole will absolutely jump-start a final-day charge and a birdie will put one in the bank to protect against the difficult holes to come in the middle of the outward nine.

    The Par-Four 11th Hole

    One of the most difficult par fours at Augusta National, this hole begins the famous Amen Corner and certainly requires the most prayer both before the drive and in advance of the approach shot. It’s that approach to a deep green guarded by water on the entire left that has drowned many Masters dreams.

    The Par-Five 13th and 15th Holes

    Considering that the design and the importance of these two holes is so similar, we decided to group them together. With solid drives, both of these holes are reachable in two, but both present significant danger in the form of water in front and green slopes that run directly in that direction.

    The Par-Four 18th Hole

    There are tougher finishing holes in championship golf, but the pressure combined with the tight, tree-lined alleyway off the tee makes 18 a terror on golfers trying to hold on to a slim lead or make birdie to erase a deficit. The 18th green has been home to significant drama over the years, and it likely will be again this weekend.

And the 2013 Masters Winner Is....

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    Tiger Woods

    Woods will win his fifth green jacket and continue his quest to chase down Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors while putting the struggles of the past three years behind him. But make no mistake, this Masters title will be anything but a cakewalk for Tiger.

    The game’s best players come into the 77th Masters playing well, and we can always count on an unexpected player or two to get off to a fast start. McIlroy, Mickelson, Westwood and others of that ilk will make their runs at Woods.

    At a predicted 11-under par, Woods will win by a stroke over Westwood, ending almost four years of major futility on Sunday afternoon.

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