While golfers typically take scouting trips months in advance to prepare for majors like the U.S. Open or PGA Championship in the United States, most already have a general idea of what to expect once April rolls around and the azaleas are in full bloom. That’s because Augusta National Golf Club is the only course in the world that hosts a major championship on an annual basis.
The 2023 Masters begins this week as it always does in early April, though there have been some course changes in recent years with the removal of some trees on the par-4 11th, lengthening of the par-5 15th in 2022, and most recently, lengthening of the par-5 13th ahead of the 2023 tournament. While most do take early looks at Augusta, the core concept of the golf course remains in tact.
You see it year over year with veterans seemingly finding form out of thin air. It’s not that they are playing better than the stars of today; it’s just that they have vast experience playing Augusta National, particularly more so than the younger generation. Freddie Couples and Tom Watson have made early week charges in their 50s. Bernhard Langer has beaten Bryson DeChambeau two of the last three years. Anywhere else on Earth, that probably doesn’t happen. Once a player finds the key ingredient at Augusta — it varies among them — the recipe is as good as his.
When does the 2023 Masters Tournament start?
There will be action in Georgia throughout the week before the tournament officially begins.
Players will be on site for practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday before the famous Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. The tournament begins with the first round on Thursday, April 6, running through the fourth and final round on Sunday, April 9.
Who is favored to win the 2023 Masters Tournament?
Before the tournament begins, three names are standing out as heavy favorites: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
Scheffler is the defending winner after earning his first major championship at August last April. On the other hand, McIlroy and Rahm are both searching for their first Masters victories.
McIlroy has won each of the other three major championships, needing just a Masters victory to complete the career grand slam. Rahm won the U.S. Open in 2021, but his best finish at Augusta was fourth in 2018.
Woods will attempt to win his sixth green jacket, but the odds are not in his favor. According to PointsBet, he is a 66-1 longshot to win the Masters. He finished 47th in the tournament last year in what was his first PGA Tour start after suffering severe injuries in a February 2021 car accident in California.
Originally dressed as a caddie, miniature versions of that design can still be had in the merchandise shop relatively easily. The full-sized versions, however, are the hottest ticket in town. They sell out very quickly and that was the case for Turner this year.
“I’ve got a few at home now that I’ve bought,” he said. “This year when I got here they were all sold out, but they said in the morning they’ll re-stock and should have some.”
How fast, exactly? Not too long after the merchandise shops open up for the day.
“For some crazy reason, they’ve actually sold out of that every day in 10 minutes. It’s kind of nuts,” Bechtol said. “I do have a friend that collects them and he’ll be here Thursday, so he’ll probably be here when the whole thing opens and run in there and get a gnome.”
The shops re-stock the shelves every day during tournament week, but the gnomes continue to fly off the shelves.
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