7 reasons why The Masters is one of the greatest sporting shows on earth

The Masters: One of the greatest sporting shows on earth

The major golf season gets underway this week at The Masters – and we’ve picked out seven reasons why it’s one of the greatest sporting shows on earth.

The Masters is always one of the most-anticipated events on the sporting calendar and this year’s edition has all the essential ingredients for a brilliant major championship.

Jon Rahm will return as defending champion at Augusta National, having fought off competition from Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson to win his first Green Jacket in 2023.

He’s bidding to become the fourth player to win back-to-back titles at the Masters after Jack Nicklaus (1965-1966), Nick Faldo (1989-1990) and Tiger Woods (2001-2002).

But World No.1 and 2022 champion Scottie Scheffler is the pre-tournament favourite having displayed great form in the opening months of the year.

Scheffler recently won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots and also tasted victory at the 2024 Players Championship. If he finds success at Augusta, he will become just the second player ever to win the Players Championship and the Masters in the same year.

The only other player to achieve that feat is Tiger Woods, who has struggled with injury problems in recent months but looks set to challenge for a history-making sixth Masters title.

Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Hideki Matsuyama, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, Jordan Spieth, Mike Weir, Danny Willett and Fred Couples will also feature as former recipients of the Green Jacket.

Unlike those players, Rory McIlroy is yet to receive the Green Jacket and is about to embark on his 16th attempt to win a maiden Masters title.

The Northern Irishman and World No.2 could potentially complete the career Grand Slam, having previously won the PGA Championship, the US Open and The Open Championship.

This tournament will also see several exciting newcomers make their Masters debut, including Swedish golfer Ludvig Aberg.

While nobody has won the Masters on their tournament debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, Aberg is in good form and could give the big guns a run for their money.

The 24-year-old, who only turned professional in June 2023, helped Europe win the Ryder Cup and has recently picked up wins on the PGA and DP World Tour.

You can watch all four days of the Masters exclusively live on Sky Sports, which is now available for just £22 extra a month – and here are just a handful of the reasons why you’re sure to be gripped by the action.Watch The Masters on Sky Sports

1] The wait and anticipation

Majors come at a rat-a-tat speed these days with one a month from April to July. But as The Masters is the first of those (followed by May’s USPGA Championship, June’s US Open and July’s Open Championship), it means the gap from the final putt being holed in the previous summer’s Open to the first tee-shot being hit at Augusta National in the spring is significant.

To be precise, when the Masters gets underway on April 11, it will be 263 days since Brian Harman lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake last July. Golf fans are craving more Major action when the calendar flips over to April and what a way to begin.

2] The incredible scenery

Is there a more beautiful venue in the whole of sports? Augusta National was built on the site of a nursery, hence each of the 18 holes being named after a flower: Tea Olive (1st), Pink Dogwood (2nd) and Flowering Peach (3rd) begin the journey while players round off at Redbud (16th), Nandina (17th) and Holly (18th).

The vibrant colours give the famed Georgia venue an almost otherworldly feel and it’s all timed to perfection with the tournament taking place as the azaleas and dogwoods come into full bloom. Whether in person or watching on TV, the perfectly-manicured fairways and greens, the clear blue water and the spectacular explosion of coloured flowers make Augusta National a site to behold.

3] The familiar cast of characters

The key to successful sitcoms or franchise movies is that we get to know and invest in the characters. From Carry On films to the regular ensemble of actors used by Rickie Gervais, we love to see the same, familiar faces pop up on our screens time after time.

And so it is at Augusta with every former winner receiving an invitation to play the event for life. In what other sporting event can you watch the stars of decades ago teeing it up with the modern-day elite and still, from time to time, getting the better of them?

4] The course we know better than any other

St Andrews and Pebble Beach are always thrown in as contenders for the most famous golf course on the planet. The 1st, 17th and 18th at the Old Course are iconic, as is Pebble Beach’s closing par-5 18th that stretches out along the coastline.

But how many other holes from those bucket-list venues really stick in the memory? At Augusta National, the only Major to be played on the same course, we know the holes like the back of our hands.

The tough opener played through trees, the sweeping downhill par-5 2nd, the short par-4 3rd with its sharp rise up to a fiercely sloping green. And then of course, Amen Corner: the downhill approach to the 11th green with danger lurking, the short par-3 12th over water and Rae’s Creek running across the front of the dogleg par-5 13th. Shot after shot, hole after hole, Augusta National’s famed fairways and greens are etched into our memories.

5] The exclusivity

There’s a mystique around The Masters that elevates it way beyond a mere golf tournament or high-class sporting event. Fans are referred to as patrons, mobile phones are strictly forbidden, and food prices from yesteryear make the on-site experience as pleasurable as possible.

But that’s if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket. Season passes are held in families for generations while those fortunate to attend via other means feel the rush of holding a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory golden ticket.

The Masters experience is a weird and wonderful throwback to a previous time, any lucky attendee feeling a sense of privilege.

6] The storylines

The Masters never fails to conjure up memorable storylines, whether they be the big talking points before the event or stories that unfold across the four days of action. Tiger Woods winning as a 21-year-old in 1997 and again aged 43 in 2019 takes some beating.

Rory McIlroy’s collapse in 2011 is still hard to watch but, on the plus side, it sets up a great redemption story if he can finally slip his arms into the green jacket. He’s once again one of the leading fancies, but having won the Arnold Palmer Championship and The Players Championship in back-to-back weeks, can anyone stop World No.1 Scottie Scheffler from winning his second Masters in three years? And talking of storylines…

7] LIV golfers back on show and ready to shine

For those who don’t tune into LIV golf, superstar names such as Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson have been absent from view in 2024. But that celebrated trio, who own 13 major championships between them, were the the first three home at Augusta National last year, Rahm ousting Koepka and Mickelson by four shots.

With the Masters committee, unlike the PGA Tour, allowing LIV players to take part, will their significant stable of talent get the better of PGA Tours such as Scheffler, McIlroy and Jordan Spieth? It adds a further layer of intrigue.

Watch The Masters on Sky Sports

When and where to watch The Masters?

This year’s tournament at Augusta runs from Thursday, April 11, with coverage beginning at 2pm on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.

Play will take place each day until the final round on Sunday, April 14.

Wall-to-wall coverage of the weekend action begins on Sky Sports at 3pm on both Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14.

The red button will provide plenty of bonus feeds, allowing viewers to follow players’ progress through various parts of Augusta’s famous layout.

Brandel Chamblee and Paul McGinley will discuss the biggest talking points from Augusta on a daily debate show.

The channel will also have documentaries and features from past editions of the event, while the final round of the upcoming tournament will be repeated in full on Monday, April 15.

You can watch all four days of the Masters exclusively live on Sky Sports, which is now available for just £22 extra a month.

Alongside the golf, you can also get all nine Sky Sports channels for £22 extra a month and that gives you access to every major sport, including Premier League football and Formula One.

Watch The Masters on Sky Sports

How to watch the other golf majors

Sky Sports will remain as the home of golf throughout 2024, with all nine golf majors exclusively live on the channel.

The Chevron Championship, one of five major championships in the women’s game, takes place in Texas between April 18 and April 21.

The PGA Championship kicks off on May 16 at the Valhalla Golf Club and the final round will take place on May 19.

That is followed by the US Women’s Open between May 30 and June 2 and the US Open from June 13 to June 16.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship takes place between June 20 and June 23 and France will host the Amundi Evian Championship from July 11 to July 14.

The 152nd Open will be played at Royal Troon in Scotland from July 18 to July 21 and the reigning champion is Brian Harman, who won the Claret Jug in 2023.

The AIG Women’s Open is the final major championship of the year and it will be held at St Andrews’ Old Course in Scotland, from August 22 to August 25.

The Solheim Cup, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour will also be shown over the year ahead.

Sky Sports Complete: £22 extra a month. 18-month minimum term. After 18 months, standard Sky Sports rolling monthly contract pricing applies, currently £35 extra a month for Sky Q customers or £30 extra a month for Sky Stream or Sky Glass customers. Requires a new 18-months minimum term for your Sky TV subscription (from £36.50 a month). Prices may change during minimum terms. Not available in conjunction with any other offer or to existing Sky Sports subscribers. UK Channel Islands and Isle of Man residential customers only. Further terms apply. Information correct as of 19 March 2024.

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