By Dave Shedloski
The Masters turns 80 years old this week, and CBS Sports has chronicled nearly all of them. This year marks the 61st year that CBS will broadcast the tournament from Augusta National Golf Club, continuing a record run as the longest running sporting event broadcast on one network.
CBS Sports is providing at least nine hours of weekend coverage of the most renowned tournament in the world, played on perhaps the most famous golf course.
The Masters and Augusta National were founded by golfing great Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Since its inception in 1934, the Masters has become a centerpiece on the annual sports calendar, facilitating dramatic events and inspiring heroic golf.
Last year’s tournament was another example of the great theater that the course provides and that CBS Sports captures when youngster Jordan Spieth won the green jacket in just his second appearance, tying Tiger Woods’ scoring record of 18-under 270 along the way.
Spieth is back to defend, but a collection of fine players is poised to play well. Included among them is Jason Day, who has ascended to No. 1 in the world after winning his last two starts, and Rory McIlroy, who needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam.
Three-time Masters champion Sir Nick Faldo, who began working for CBS Sports as lead analyst in 2007, assesses what lies ahead for the year’s first major championship.
Could this be a memorable Masters, with so many top players playing so well in the last few months, whether it’s Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott or Bubba Watson, just to name a few?
More than likely it’s going to be interesting. That’s what we always want — big guys being on form. You look at what Jason Day has been doing. Jordan is trying to defend. Can Rory find it is a question. Can Stenson pull through at 40? Weather is going to be quite tough in the early rounds. That might shake a few free. But if all plays out as expected, we are looking forward to another amazing weekend.
What do you think of Rory skipping the Par-3 Contest?
It’s a player’s decision how best to prepare. On a Wednesday, you’ve worked hard and you feel you’re ready. Those extra hours on your feet [playing the Par-3], you don’t need it. Some people don’t understand it. But some guys want to stay in that mode. It’s all about getting the right intensity in your mind.
Does Jordan Spieth seem to be pressing in preparation for a title defense?
Well, you can see that a little. When you play well, things just fall into place. And then it doesn’t quite happen, and all of a sudden you press a little bit to get back to where you were. You know, he made it a conscious effort to not give in to his emotions at the Match Play, and he didn’t quite get it done. He got frustrated. I think he’s pushing things. If you get frustrated when you’re playing well, I think it can help you play better. When you’re frustrated not playing well, you get more frustrated. His swing is not quite there. He can technically go off more than Rory and Jason Day. He has to slow things down and try to play to his strengths.
If you had to pick a discipline that is most important at Augusta, is it driving, iron play, chipping or putting?
There’s a lot in that question. It’s really putting, and the strategy of putting. That’s what guys notice is the approach you have to take. What is the right holing speed? Can you get the pace really right? The amount of break you have on putts … there’s nothing quite like it. If you’re going to miss it, where am I going to miss it? It’s not being negative. It’s giving thought to the whole process. You don’t want leave yourself a bunch of 4-5-6 footers and they might [have] a foot of break. You try to make life a little easier.
Can you give us your favorites and dark horses?
For favorites, I like the Southern Hemisphere boys. That would be Jason Day and Adam Scott from Australia and Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel from South Africa. Outsiders, I think Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Reed are worth a look.
Journalist and author David Shedloski of Columbus, Ohio, has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. A winner of 23 national writing awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedloski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director for “The Memorial,” the official magazine of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf For Dummies,” with Gary McCord. He’s a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, the poor fellow.