It is an exciting time for golfing fans, as the 2014 Masters, the first major of the year, is set to begin on Thursday.
If you haven’t caught up on the latest news and buzz surrounding this marquee event, it would be a good idea to do so before the initial groups tee off.
Keep reading to find out about the updated chatter and check out the biggest storylines in play before the tournament begins at Augusta National.
Tiger Woods Out of the Picture
There has been no bigger story leading up to the Masters than Woods’ decision to declare himself out of the running for a green jacket.
Woods will be foregoing a chance to capture his 15th major victory and seventh Masters championship in order to recover from back surgery. He made the shocking announcement on his official website at the beginning of the month:
"After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done.”
The 38-year-old went on to express his frustration with not being able to take to the course in Georgia, but he conveyed hope that he would be able to break Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories and Jack Nicklaus’ longstanding mark of 18 major wins:
It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future. There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I've said many times, Sam and Jack their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine.
Nicklaus, who won his final major at the age of 46 during the Masters back in 1986, believes that Tiger will breach his personal milestone. According to ESPN.com, the Golden Bear appeared on the Mike & Mike radio program and explained why he feels that Woods will have ample opportunity to reach 19 major wins:
I feel very bad for Tiger. He's really worked towards my record. I still think he'll break my record. As long as he is physically able to do it. ... He's 38 years old and he's probably got another 10 years at least of being able to compete -- that's 40 more majors to win five of them. It shouldn't be too difficult.
Will Tiger break Nicklaus' record of 18 majors?
Many believed that Woods would have been closer to the milestone at this point in his career, especially after winning 14 majors by 2008. Unfortunately, Tiger hasn’t been able to break through at one of the four main tourneys since an improbable victory at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open.
Hopefully Woods can get back on the links in time for the U.S. Open in June and British Open in July, resuming his pursuit of a major win that has been eluding him for almost six years now.
Adam Scott Looking to Join Elite Company
With Woods out of the running, there is no better opportunity for Adam Scott to continue his run to the top and claim a rare consecutive victory at Augusta.
Scott has been solid since winning the Masters a year ago, ascending to the No. 2 ranking in the world and playing some of the best golf of his career. He spoke about the inspiration that becoming the world’s No. 1 golfer is providing, as per Ewan Murray of The Guardian:
There's absolutely motivation for that. But the motivation is just to play well. I feel like my game is at a point where if I play well, I have got a chance to win this tournament. That's my goal this week. And the follow on from that would be world No. 1.
I've had a couple of goes at that the last couple times I've played and it hasn't worked out. If I can keep chipping away at it, whether I win or not this week and get to No. 1, my goal is just to keep playing well.
Not only does Scott have a chance to oust Woods and move up a rung, but he also can become just the fourth person to win back-to-back titles in this prestigious tourney.
Should the Australian sensation accomplish that feat, it would put him in a group with Nicklaus, Woods and Nick Faldo—three of the greatest players to ever take up the game.
Golfers to win 2 of 3 Masters: Horton Smith, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo, Tiger, and Phil. Bubba or Scott can become No. 9.— Eye on Golf (@EyeOnGolf) April 5, 2014
The odddsmakers at Odds Shark have Scott as a co-favorite, along with Rory McIlroy, to slip on a green jacket. At 9-1, the experts in Vegas clearly feel that this 33-year-old star has a good chance to reach rarefied air with a victory on Sunday.
Don’t sleep on that happening, as Scott is one of the most consistent players in the field and clearly proved himself capable of winning it all at Augusta.