A Tradition Like No Other

April 7 – The Masters begins today with an array of tasty pairings.  Unlike many of the tournaments on the Tour, which pair players based upon a random draw, the pairings at Augusta National are purposeful and deliberate.  The club committee tasked with developing the pairings for the 1st two rounds of play has complete discretion to group players as it sees fit.  The only exception to their unfettered sovereignty is the one traditional pairing:  the current US Amateur Champ (Peter Uihlein) is paired with the defending Masters champion (Phil Mickelson).  And no one messes with tradition at the Masters.

The Masters offers only 19 ways to recieve an invitation to compete for the Green Jacket.  Unlike many PGA Tour events, the many of the qualifications involve world play performance which promotes a more well-rounded international field.  (See the Fast Facts below for qualifications.)   The committee typically ties the high profile players together into super pairings with the lesser-followed players and many internationals grouped into the time slots between these all-star threesomes.  In this manner, the Committee can control the gallery so that players are able to move though the course, limit noise so that the fan-base is spread throughout the 365-acre grounds, and most importantly for ESPN, assure that television coverage in the morning and afternoon features players who will draw viewership.

Some of the more interesting or comment-worthy pairings are detailed below:

  • 8:18 AM – Ben Crenshaw, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na – How did Gentle Ben get paired with these two schmos?
  • 8:40 AM – Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Nick Watney – Maybe the handsomest pairing in the field.
  • 8:51 AM – Vijay Singh, Tim Clark, Aaron Baddeley – I am hoping that Bads and the ill-tempered Vijay start fighting and Bads lays VJ out before they reach Amen Corner.  South African Tim Clark is a perfect referee for this fracas.
  • 9:24 AM – Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day – great pairing of 21 to 23 year old players representing “the next wave.”
  • 10:19 AM – Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar – The Germanator and Westy, the world’s top two players, paired together.  Look for both of them to be in contention on Sunday even though Kaymer has had zero success at the Masters.  Oh, Kuch, we know you will be playing over the weekend but you’ll need to stand next to Lee to get some air-time in this pairing.
  • 10:41 AM – Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Robert Allenby – Tiger and Graeme have dueled recently.  In December, Graeme won the Chevron World Challenge with a birdie during the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Tiger who had blown a four-shot lead on the final day of the tourney.
  • 11:25 AM – Craig Stadler, Kevin Streelman, a-Nathan Smith – I fully expect the Walrus to quit before the end of the day on Friday.  Not really an ideal pairing for mild-mannered uber-Am Smith.
  • 12:53 PM – Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Steve Stricker – Freddie is simply the most enjoyable golfer to watch play in the last three decades.
  • 1:04 PM – Anthony Kim, Henrik Stenson, Steve Marino – Fans, keep your eyes open for flying objects – the Patented Burgess Putter-Chuck is a given with this brutish group.
  •  1:15 PM – Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Eduardo Molinari – This may well be the most well-rounded of the three player pairings.  I would take these three guys in a best-ball any day.
  • 1:48 PM – Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, a-Peter Uihlein – Coming off of a win in Houston, can Lefty repeat?

The complete pairing list can be found at  http://www.masters.com/en_US/scores/pairings/

Fast Fact:  Players who meet any of the following criteria receive an invitation to play in The Masters:

  • Former winners of The Masters
  • Winners of the last five U.S. Opens
  • Winners of the last five British Opens
  • Winners of the last five PGA Championships
  • Winners of the last three Players Championships
  • Winner and runner-up from the last U.S. Amateur Championship
  • Winner of the last British Amateur Championship
  • Winner of the last Asian Amateur Championship
  • Winner of the last U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship
  • Winner of the last U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship
  • The top 16 finishers (including ties) from last year’s Masters Tournament
  • The top 8 finishers (including ties), from last year’s U.S. Open
  • The top 4 finishers (including ties) from last year’s British Open
  • The top 4 finishers (including ties) from last year’s PGA Championship
  • The top 30 finishers on last year’s PGA Tour money list
  • Winners of PGA Tour events from the previous Masters through this year’s Masters, providing those tournaments awarded full FedEx Cup points (no opposite-field tournaments qualify)
  • All players who qualified for last year’s Tour Championship
  • The Top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of the previous year
  • The Top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking published in the week prior to this year’s Masters

The Augusta National’s Masters Committee also reserves the right to invite any international golfer its sees fit who is not otherwise qualified.

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6 Responses to “A Tradition Like No Other”

  1. Spounder Says:

    Nice research Paregolian….This is a very informative platform.

    Do you have a Ask Mr. Fantasy section where i can get advice on my start em/sit ems ?

  2. Mrs. Earl Gray Says:

    Is this posting on golf a Horseshoe in disguise, in which you are really saying that while the United States government is about to come to a screeching halt, our president is probably getting ready for his weekend golf game? Or more succinctly, are you saying that Nero fiddles while Rome burns?

  3. Ian Paregol Says:

    Nope. This one is really about one of the most outstanding sporting events that the US has to offer. It’s the honor of the code of golf (and the self-regulatory adherence to even the most arcane and diabolical of rules). And the sense of fair play and unbiased recognition of remarkable shot making (like Phil Mickelson’s beauty through the trees and over water on 13 in 2010). And the inclusion of amateur players who seek only to compete with the world’s best however accepting no financial benefit from their own success. As well as the involvement of the giants of the game who are revered as demi-gods even though their time has long passed. All on the majestic grounds of Augusta National and its rich, storied history (well, except for the racial, gender-based and faith-limiting membership policies). Hmmm, well, 4 out of 5 isn’t bad.

  4. Mrs. Earl Gray Says:

    Actually, it seemed too detailed and well thought out as a sports posting to be a horseshoe in disguise. But, as I learned in 12 grade English, once an author writes something, it’s up to the masses to impose meaning (that might be a paraphrase and a distortion, but I’m going with it).

  5. SSLaw Guy Says:

    I should be not watching golf. I am was not disappointed with Tiger’s putting. I hope he makes the cut. Was glad to see Jack! Mcilro will probably win.

  6. Puddy Says:

    Thanks for the briefing. For not being a sports junkie, I’m suddenly finding that my finger on the remote is idling over sports or sports recap channels. Your take on things is pretty enjoyable to read.

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