The Masters 2014: Complete Guide to This Year's Augusta National

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

The Masters 2014: Complete Guide to This Year's Augusta National

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    2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.
    2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.Associated Press

    At long last, it's time for the Masters, the most wonderful time of the year for golf fans.

    This week, all of the best golfers in the world—with one very notable exception—will gather on the greens of the Augusta National Golf Club and battle for the chance to walk away with the famous green jacket.

    Even with Tiger Woods on the sidelines, there will be plenty of familiar faces coming around Amen Corner beginning Thursday. Phil Mickelson is trying to win his fourth title at Augusta, Adam Scott is looking for the rare jacket defense, and Rory McIlroy is seeking his first Masters title. 

    Here's everything you need to know about the 2014 Masters.

All About Augusta National

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Unlike the other major championships, which rotate, the Masters is always held on the famous lawns of the Augusta National Golf Club. 

    The course, which opened up for play in 1933 and first hosted the Masters in 1934, was designed by the legendary Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie. It was built on the site of the former Fruitland Nursery, and each hole is named after a tree or shrub.

    Over the years, the private club of Augusta National has received a lot of criticism for its conservative policies. The club didn't allow black members until 1990, and it only just admitted two women—former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore—in 2012.

    But politics aside, nobody can deny that Augusta National is one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world. This year, however, the course will look a little bit different than it has in the past. The Eisenhower Tree, a famous pine tree located on the 17th hole, had to be removed in February due to extensive ice damage. 

Where to Watch on Television

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    2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson.
    2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson.Associated Press

    This year, there will be more places than ever to watch the Masters.

    The event will be streamed from multiple angles on throughout, and CBS, CBS Sports Network and ESPN will juggle the broadcast.

    Here's where to find the drama.



    11 a.m. to 1 p.m., CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., ESPN



    11 a.m. to 1 p.m., CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., ESPN



    11 a.m. to 1 p.m., CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7 p.m., CBS



    11 a.m. to 1 p.m., CBS Sports Network

    3 p.m. to 7 p.m., CBS

Biggest Storylines

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    Bubba Watson putting the green jacket on 2013 champion Adam Scott.
    Bubba Watson putting the green jacket on 2013 champion Adam Scott.Associated Press

    Can Adam Scott Defend His Title?

    Last year, Australian Adam Scott won his first major title in Augusta in a playoff against Angel Cabrera. Scott is currently sitting at No. 2 in the world golf rankings and therefore will be the top-ranked golfer on the course with Tiger Woods out. All eyes will be on him to see if he can retain his jacket.


    Will Rory McIlroy Win a Green Jacket?

    Rory McIlroy has not played his best golf at the Masters; his best finish is a tie for 15th back in 2011. However, he has gotten back on track after a rough 2013, and he has been focusing on tailoring his game for the Augusta lawns. The former No. 1 is looking for the third major of his young career and will have the spotlight on him.


    How Much Will Tiger Be Missed?

    Even though Woods hasn't been at his best for years, he's still the No. 1 golfer in the world and the biggest star in golf. With his absence, the rest of the field will once again need to step it up and entertain the crowds.

The Top Pairings

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    There are plenty of exciting pairings set for the first two days of the Masters. Here are four of the most intriguing.


    Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Matthew Fitzpatrick (10:41 a.m. ET on Thursday, 1:48 p.m. Friday)

    The defending champion will kick off his 2014 campaign and quest for the No. 1 ranking with Dufner, the 2013 PGA Championship winner, and Fitzpatrick, the 19-year-old U.S. Amateur champion. Hopefully there will be time for Dufnering.


    Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson (1:04 p.m. Thursday, 9:35 a.m. Friday)

    Stenson and Day also have a chance to finish the Masters as the No. 1 player in the world, and they'll get up-close looks at each other's games during the first two days. They'll be joined by Johnson, who is in the spotlight this week after his fiancee Paulina Gretzky's controversial Golf Digest cover.


    Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Justin Rose (1:48 p.m. Thursday, 10:30 a.m. Friday)

    This accomplished trio has 10 major titles combined. Mickelson has five, including three Masters, Els has four and Rose has one, last year's U.S. Open. Els finished runner-up at the Masters in 2000 and 2004 but hasn't finished in the top 10 since.


    Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed (10:52 a.m. Thursday, 1:59 p.m. Friday)

    McIlroy is the favorite this year, and he will kick off his quest for his first green jacket with a pair of Masters rookies, Spieth and Reed. The 23-year-old Reed has won three PGA events in the past year, including the Wyndham Championship in a playoff over Spieth. Spieth, 20, was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year last year.

The Top Contenders

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    Looking at the odds provided by Vegas Insider, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott have the best chances to win in Augusta this weekend. That makes sense, as Scott is the defending champion and the top-ranked player and McIlroy is a two-time major champion who is playing great golf this year.

    But don't forget about Phil Mickelson. The three-time Masters champion always plays inspired golf at Augusta, and with his back apparently feeling better and the biggest foe of his career on the sidelines, Lefty will be looking to show the up-and-comers how it's done.

    Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson, the 2007 and 2012 winners, are also having good seasons and could be dangerous this weekend.

    Australian Jason Day, who many consider to be the best active player without a major, is also one to watch out for. Day won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship back at the end of February to bring his ranking up to No. 4 in the world. 

    Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson round out the group of top contenders according to the odds. All four are playing well and looking for their first major victory at Augusta. 

The Dark Horses

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    World No. 3 Henrik Stenson.
    World No. 3 Henrik Stenson.Associated Press

    Henrik Stenson is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, but the Swede hasn't had a great year, with only one top-five finish. He also hasn't finished in the top 10 at the Masters in his career. But Stenson has an outside chance to finish this tournament as the No. 1 player in the world, and he has a game that should suit Augusta National. While not a favorite, Stenson is too talented to leave out of the conversation.

    Angel Cabrera can never be counted out at Augusta either. As he's proven before, it simply doesn't matter what he does the rest of the year; El Pato comes to play at the Masters. He has six top-10 finishes at this tournament in his career, including a runner-up finish last year and the victory in 2009.

    Sergio Garcia hasn't finished in the top five in the Masters in 10 years, but he played well at the Houston Open last week and could make a surprise run.  

    With the way golfers have come out of nowhere to win majors in recent years, the entire field could be considered dark horses. But in addition to the names already mentioned, I'd also keep an eye on Lee Westwood and his experience and Ian Poulter and his pants. 

The Favorite

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    World No. 9 Rory McIlroy.
    World No. 9 Rory McIlroy.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    This is looking like it could be Rory McIlroy's year to shine at Augusta. 

    McIlroy has long been considered the heir to Tiger's throne, and with Woods still struggling with his back and sitting out this major, the golf world will be looking for McIlroy to step up.

    McIlroy hasn't ever finished in the top 10 at the Masters, but wins at the U.S. Open in 2011 and the PGA Championship in 2012 prove that the 24-year-old has what it takes to walk away from the weekend as a winner.

    Back in 2011, a then-21-year-old McIlroy led the Masters after the first three rounds. However, he shot one of the worst rounds of his career that Sunday, an 80, to finish tied for 15th. McIlroy bounced back from that disappointment to win his first major later that summer, but his Augusta demons still need to be squashed.

    He told Ewan Murray of The Guardian that he feels a lot of similarities between this year and 2011, but he knows how to close now:

    I would know what to do. I feel like I am going into this one a little bit like 2011. I am playing nicely, comfortable with my game, being in contention a little bit without quite getting the win. I'm just waiting for that week where everything really clicks.

    After struggling in 2013, McIlroy is back to playing top-level golf and now has the experience to come away from the 2014 Masters with a green jacket and a third major title.