Valero Texas Open: The race to The Masters
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Tiger Woods will make a sensational return to competitive golf and Hideki Matsuyama will defend the Green Jacket when the 2022 Masters tees off at Augusta National. We answer some frequently asked questions about this year’s tournament.
The 86th edition of this event is golf’s first major of the season and will be played between April 7-10. Matsuyama won his first major here in 2021 with a winning score of 10-under, becoming the first Asian-born player to win the tournament.
So, Tiger’s back?!
Five-time champion Woods will play this week just 14 months after suffering life-threatening injuries in a car accident. The 46-year-old played nine holes on Wednesday before confirming the decision the world of sport had been hoping for.
When does he tee off?
Woods will play alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann for the first two days and will tee off at 10:34 am on Thursday.
What are the featured groups to look out for?
10:23 am: Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, Paul Casey
10:34 am: Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann
10:45 am: Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, James Piot
10:56 am: Adam Schott, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau
1:30 pm: Dustin Johnson, Billy Horschel, Collin Morikawa
1:41 pm: Will Zalatoris, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm
1:52 pm: Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele
2:03 pm: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy
Who are the favourites?
The favourite is world number two and current US Open champion Jon Rahm. Next in the betting is Justin Thomas, followed by 2020 champion Dustin Johnson. Players’ champion Cameron Smith and new world number one Scottie Scheffler, winner three times in his last five starts, are also in the running.
Any outside bets?
Collin Morikawa could rediscover his form and is one to watch with his superb iron play, a key to success at Augusta, and Viktor Hovland has won three times since November.
As well as Tiger, what other major stories could unfold?
If Rory McIlroy wins he will complete the fabled career grand slam of winning all four majors: the Masters, US Open, PGA, and The Open. Only five players have achieved this: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.
What is the total prize money and how much does the winner get?
The 2022 Masters prize money has yet to be announced, but in 2021 it was $11.5 million, with the winner’s share coming in at a cool $2,070,000. This year’s purse will be revealed on Saturday and it is expected to increase. Last year, the player who finished second received $1.2 million, third $667,000, fourth $437,000, and the player who finished 50th and last received $28,980.
What else does the winner receive?
A replica of the Masters trophy, a gold medal and the club’s famed Green Jacket, which was first handed out in 1949. The winner also gets 600 FedEx Cup points and 100 official world golf ranking points, with all four majors offering the maximum points for any tournament in men’s golf.
Other big benefits are a five-plus season exemption on the PGA Tour, as well a starting place in the Masters for life and spots in the other three majors for the next five years.
What is the competition format?
72-hole stroke-play event contested over four days. To make the cut after 36 holes, players must be in the top 50 places, counting ties.
How is the winner decided in the event of a tie?
If players are tied after 72 holes, the winner is decided in a sudden-death playoff, beginning at the 18th hole and going to the 10th hole if needed. If it goes to a third hole, it would go back to the 18th.
What recent changes have been made to Augusta National?
For the 2022 championship, the greens at the third, 13th and 17th have been replaced, providing new contours for the players to navigate.
The biggest changes come at the par-4 11th and par-5 15th holes. The 11th will now play 520 yards, a 15-yard increase, and the 15th will play 20 yards longer at 550 yards. It means the par 72 course will play to a record length of 7,510 yards. The changes were designed to reward good tee shots down the right-hand side, while setting up more risk for a badly hit shot.
What are the keys to winning?
In recent years the big correlation has been between who leads in strokes gained approach and who wins the tournament. So, accurate iron approach play is key. And a good week with the putter is always essential around Augusta on its quick, rolling greens.
What’s the weather forecast?
Largely sunny conditions are expected for the opening round, with temperatures of around 23C and winds in the 10mph range. The rest of the weekend is looking dry, but wind is expected to pick up on Friday, with gusts of up to 40km/h.
Will there be patrons at the 2022 Masters?
A few were allowed in 2021 and none were in attendance at the November 2020 Masters. This time, Augusta National will be back to normal with thousands of patrons.
Will there be a Par 3 Contest this year?
The Par 3 Contest will return this year after being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will start at midday on Wednesday, April 6.
When did Tiger win his first Masters?
It’s been 25 years since Woods won his first Masters in 1997 at the age of 21. He is still the youngest player to ever win the event. His victory that year was by 12 strokes, which is the largest winning margin in Masters history.
Who has the most wins?
Jack Nicklaus has 6 wins, Tiger Woods 5, Arnold Palmer 4, and Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Sir Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson all have 3.
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