Top Five Questions For Wednesday At The Masters
Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site this week at The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
Here are the Top Five Questions for Wednesday at The Masters.
1. What will be the impact on the players of the new "Tournament Practice Range" at Augusta National?
Like nowhere else on earth, the Augusta National Golf Club has once again set the bar higher when it comes to tournament golf.
Whether it is for the patron, the player, or the folks watching at home, this is the place where things happen before anyone even realizes they need to happen.
Of course it is The Masters so the price is undisclosed but it is clear that cost did not enter into the equation.
First of all, a whole lot of land had to be acquired across Berckmans Road to replace the previous parking lot. Eighteen acres to be exact.
The design of the range is futuristic in that it prepares the players to specifically play Augusta National.
The locations of tall pine trees call for both draw and fade tee shots right on the practice range. One of the four target greens is a smaller version of the par-5 No. 2 green where they can practice their 80-yard pitch shots hoping for a good start to a round on the real deal.
The facility is supplying ten different ball types this week to be accommodating to the players.
There is more seating for the patrons and it is as comfortable as the movies.
Viewing is easier with the entire 400-yard south side with multiple short game areas within an arm's length of incoming patrons.
Operating the range is even easier for the support staff. The collection areas near the greens have recessed baskets at their low points for ease of picking up the golf balls!
Players will be better prepared for their competitive rounds this year. Look for lower scores due to an improved "Tournament Practice Facility" at Augusta National.
2. Will an amateur win The Masters for the first time ever?
There are five amateurs in the field this year with all but one playing in their first Masters.
Korean Byeong-Hun An became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Amateur last year. Headed to Berkeley in the fall he is paired with defending champion Angel Cabrera and Jim Furyk in the first round.
Ben Martin, the man An beat 7 and 5 in the 36-hole final at Southern Hills Country Club, gets to play with the legendary two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. From Georgia, though a Clemson senior, Martin has overcome a heart ailment to have a strong collegiate career.
Brad Benjamin won the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Augusta National is no municipal golf course but the left-handed Benjamin has a chance like anyone else in the field to win the 74th rendition of The Masters.
Another amateur Korean Chang-Won Han won the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship to beat 115 golfers from 30 countries and earn a ticket to The Masters with playing privileges. At age 18 you can bet it will be the experience of a lifetime.
Matteo Manassero became the youngest player to win the British Amateur championship in its 124-year history. At age 16 he was also the first Italian to win the title.
Manassero will become the youngest player to ever compete in the Masters, eclipsing the 1952 record of Tommy Jacobs. He will turn 17 a week after The Masters.
Nathan Smith, at age 31, is the only amateur with Masters' experience. Also winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2003 he shot 78-72 to miss the cut by two strokes at the 2004 Masters.
The best amateur finish was a solo second by Ken Venturi in 1956 when he shot 80 on Sunday to lose by one stroke.
If Bobby Jones could not do it than do not look for an amateur to win this year's Masters.
3. Will the Molinari brothers be in contention on Sunday afternoon?
They are good, no doubt.
Older brother Edoardo finished tied for second two weeks ago at Bay Hill to the hot Ernie Els.
The 29-year old Italian is fresh from the European Tour's Challenge Tour. When he won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2005 he was the first European player to do so since 1911.
Older, wiser, and with Masters experience the elder Molinari brother shot 80-77 and missed the cut by nine strokes in 2006.
Francesco, one year and nine months younger, is the more accomplished professional player with nine Top 10s on the European Tour last year.
Together, the Molinari brothers won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup winning for Italy for the first time last fall.
Together they broke through to the Top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings and are now on the biggest stage in all of golf.
Look for them to do well in the Masters maybe even coming down the stretch in contention on the back nine come Sunday afternoon.
4. Will Jack out-drive Arnie when hitting ceremonial first tee shots Thursday morning?
The twosome will be joined by the other "Big Three" member Gary Player in the Wednesday afternoon par three contest.
Mr. Palmer at age 80, Mr. Nicklaus at age 70, and Mr. Player turning 75 later this year is certainly an era of golf celebrating the Masters.
Mr. Player is still an active competitor on the Champions Tour.
Let's enjoy these guys while we can and benefit from their wisdom about golf and life as much as possible.
5. Can and will Tiger Woods win the 2010 Masters?
Absolutely, positively, without a doubt Tiger Woods can win this Masters for the fifth time.
With a personal fiasco now behind him he can focus completely on his game, the game of golf, and his family.
No distractions for Tiger means a new and improved Tiger.
He is having fun again in life.
Likely the realization of losing everything has made him a better man and given him an opportunity to win everything back including the rest of those majors to surpass Nicklaus' record of 18.
I would not bet against Tiger donning another green jacket in Butler Cabin early on Sunday evening.
The 2010 Masters is surely to be one of the most exciting, most watched in history!
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
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