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Where: Augusta National, Georgia, United States
When: Thursday, April 10-13
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott spent the weekend before the tournament going down Memory Lane and all it took was a trip down Magnolia Lane, the driveway at famed Augusta National Golf Club.
The first Australian to capture the coveted green jacket symbolic of Masters supremacy made the scene Sunday outside the clubhouse at Augusta National, where he defeated Angel Cabrera in a playoff last year with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 10th hole.
“I’ve walked down the 10th hole four or five times. It’s wonderful every time,” Scott said Sunday.
Bubba Watson, the 2012 winner who slipped the green jacket onto Scott’s shoulders, was also at the course practising on a cool and overcast Sunday along with such fellow past champions as Vijay Singh of Fiji and Fred Couples of the United States.
Scott had arrived on Friday with his father Phil and they played an emotional round that day.
“It was the highlight of his golfing life,” Scott said. “He played well but the greens got the best of him. That’s the case for 99 percent of the people who play it for the first time.
“Just playing with him, for me, was fantastic.”
As Scott reached the 10th hole, he turned his thoughts back to the tension and pressure that helped produce his first major title.
“I was reminded to stop and think about what it was like in that playoff, what I was feeling and what the moment was like,” Scott said.
“Huge emotional (moment). It has had an incredible impact on me, this event, in the past year — coming back, reliving it, redoing it.”
Scott had also played Augusta National last month after the Arnold Palmer Invitational, almost a get-reacquainted tour of the famed layout.
“It was nice to come here and have a hit and not do too much,” Scott said.
Masters tradition dictates the reigning champion takes his jacket wherever he likes for the 12 months after his triumph, but it then is kept on the grounds at Augusta National.
Scott says he has not spent nearly enough time wearing it around in public and he really does not want to leave it in the champions locker room when he leaves after this week’s 78th Masters.
“I’m quite determined not to leave it here,” Scott said. “I probably haven’t taken advantage enough of wearing it out. I’m very determined to take it with me.”
The only way he can do that, traditionally speaking, would be to win it again. Such a repeat is rare. Only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo have won back-to-back Masters titles.
Scott was sorry to see the absence of the Eisenhower Tree, a famed landmark in the 17th fairway that was removed in February due to damage from an ice storm, but he has little doubt that next Sunday will have the same back-nine drama that has become a Masters trademark.
“You can only do so much when Mother Nature is involved,” Scott said.
“They are going to have the course in perfect condition. This course has a way of producing something exciting every year.”
Four-time green jacket winner Tiger Woods will miss his very first Masters week dating back 20 years. Certainly the loss of Woods due to back surgery will change the feel of the event, as he’s the show at Augusta.
However, the course itself and the moments it can produce ready-made for golf folklore are the reason why it is the king of majors every year.
Two years ago, Bubba Watson hit a mind blowing slingshot around trees on the 10th hole in a playoff, the defining shot that gave the tall lefty with the homemade swing his first green jacket beating out Louis Oosthuizen.
In 2011, Rory Mcilroy collapsed on Sunday while South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win what is considered one of the most exciting back nine Sundays eve.
Of the other big names that are likely to be up near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday include, Jason Day, the Australian who has shown to be consistent in recent years on a course known for baring its teeth.
Bubba Watson, who has the length off the tee to shorten several of the massive holes, and both Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson have the power game to leave shorter iron shots into the crazy tough greens, and if either has a great putting week they could win their first major.
England’s Luke Donald is an incredible putter, and has three top 10s in the past decade at Augusta. Donald doesn’t hit it long, and Augusta National is LONG, but great iron play and putting could place him in contention.