The first thing you need to know for 2015 is when The Masters will be played next year. The tournament dates are April 9-12. Masters week (and practice rounds) begins on Monday, April 6, 2015.
Now you just need tickets. The tickets page on Masters.com notes that 2015 ticket applications are not yet available. But you can go ahead and register your online account in preparation for the application process. Go here to do that.
If you've previously registered, no need to do it again. Once the application for 2015 Masters tickets is available, all those registered receive an email notification. Then you can fill out the application and hope. And tickets directly from the tournament aren't that expensive, especially for practice days. Most people reading this will find them affordable.
The catch is that the odds of getting practice day tickets directly through this online process are slim; the odds of getting tournament day tickets are vanishly small.
So hope for the best, but assume you'll miss out. Then what will you need? Money, and plenty of it, to buy 2015 Masters tickets through the secondary market (i.e., ticket brokers). If you're well off financially, that won't be a problem: You can buy the tickets you want. If, like most people, your budget is tight, then start saving now. Open a new savings account (or place a new shoebox under your bed) and add $30 a week to it. By tournament time next year you'll have around $1500 saved, and you might need all of it. Prices on the secondary market vary widely, and can swing wildly. What day you want to attend (practice day or tournament day? practice day tickets are much cheaper), how many tickets you want and your timing (2014 prices dropped dramatically after Tiger Woods withdrew) will affect prices. A single tournament day ticket can cost in the thousands on the secondary market, a practice day tickets in the hundreds - but availability and timing can drive those prices up or down.
Of course, you'll still to have to make travel and lodging arrangements (start early on that, too). Hey, nobody said it was easy to get to The Masters.
Bubba Watson won his second Masters Tournament in three years on Sunday, beating 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt by three strokes.
Watson finished at 8-under-par 280, shooting 69 in the final round. Watson and Spieth started the day tied at 5-under, and it was Spieth who appeared the steadier player in the early going. He built a 2-stroke lead over Watson through seven holes. But the tournament turned on holes 8 and 9: Spieth bogied them both, Watson birdied them both. That 4-stroke swing put Watson in front by two at the turn, and he held that lead for most of the back nine, eventually expanding it to three.
So Bubba Watson is now the 17th golfer two win multiple Masters titles. Jack Nicklaus leads with six wins; Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have four each. The 3-time champs are Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson.
And the nine golfers with two wins each are Watson, Horton Smith, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw and Jose Maria Olazabal. Not bad company.
Watson now has two wins in his first six starts at The Masters. The recordholder in that regard is Horton Smith, who won two of his first three times in the tournament (the first three Masters that were played). Next best are Jimmy Demaret, Arnold Palmer ... and Watson, each with two wins in their first six Masters starts. (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods? Nicklaus won one of his first six starts, but three of those starts were as an amateur; Woods won one of his first six, but two of those starts were as an amateur.)
Watson is also just the second left-handed golfer to win more than one major. Mickelson is the only other multi-major champion among lefties.
The Masters didn't have any left-handed winners until 2003, when Mike Weir became the first. But six of the past 12 winners are lefties: one for Weir, two for Watson, three for Mickelson.
List of all Masters champions
(Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Or maybe someone will come from farther back by going very low. The Masters' final-round record is 64. That's a score that's been accomplished six times in the final round:
- Maurice Bembridge, 1974 (34-30)
- Hale Irwin, 1975 (32-32)
- Gary Player, 1978 (34-30)
- Greg Norman, 1988 (30-34)
- David Toms, 1998 (35-29)
- Bo Van Pelt, 2012 (34-30)
Nerves play a huge part in the final round of any major, of course, so scores won't necessarily be good today. Of the 13 golfers who enter the final round under par, four of them shot in the 60s in the third round.
What's the highest final-round score by a golfer who won the tournament? That's 75, and it's happened twice:
- Arnold Palmer, 1962
- Trevor Immelman, 2008
If Spieth (age 20) winds up winning, he'll be the Masters' youngest-ever winner; Rickie Fowler (25) would be fifth-youngest.
If Miguel Angel Jimenez (50) or Fred Couples (54) winds up winning, they would be not just the oldest Masters winner, but the oldest winner of any major.
Among those under par entering the final round, Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Jonas Blixt, Jimenez, Fowler, Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn, Kevin Stadler and John Senden would be first-time major winners.
Watson and Couples would be second-time Masters winners. Jim Furyk and Justin Rose would be first-time Masters winners but second-time major winners.
- 10:10 a.m. - Larry Mize
- 10:20 a.m. - Stephen Gallacher, Joost Luiten
- 10:30 a.m. - Mike Weir, Brandt Snedeker
- 10:40 a.m. - K.J. Choi, Sandy Lyle
- 10:50 a.m. - Francesco Molinari, Nick Watney
- 11 a.m. - Brendon de Jonge, a-Oliver Goss
- 11:10 a.m. - Thongchai Jaidee, Thorbjorn Olesen
- 11:20 a.m. - Lucas Glover, Billy Horschel
- 11:30 a.m. - Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink
- 11:50 a.m. - Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal
- Noon - Steven Bowdith, Hunter Mahan
- 12:10 p.m. - Martin Kaymer, Bill Haas
- 12:20 p.m. - Louis Oosthuizen, Jamie Donaldson
- 12:30 p.m. - Bernhard Langer, Henrik Stenson
- 12:40 p.m. - Jimmy Walker, Rory McIlroy
- 12:50 p.m. - Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Russell Henley
- 1 p.m. - Chris Kirk, Steve Stricker
- 1:10 p.m. - Adam Scott, Jason Day
- 1:30 p.m. - Ian Poulter, Kevin Streelman
- 1:40 p.m. - John Senden, Gary Woodland
- 1:50 p.m. - Kevin Stadler, Fred Couples
- 2 p.m. - Thomas Bjorn, Justin Rose
- 2:10 p.m. - Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk
- 2:20 p.m. - Miguel Angel Jimenez, Rickie Fowler
- 2:30 p.m. - Matt Kuchar, Jonas Blixt
- 2:40 p.m. - Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson
And for two, it ties the tournament record for best round by any golfer over 50. In the history of the Masters before Saturday, only Fred Couples and Ben Hogan had shot 66s among the 50-and-over set.
Hogan did it in the third round of the 1967 Masters, when he was 54 years old. Couples did it in the first round of the 2010 Masters, when he was 50. Jimenez turned 50 in January.
The 66 also moved Jimemez way up the leaderboard - all the way into a tie for third place at the time he finished the round (the leaders had yet to tee off at that point, however). Jimenez's three-round total is 3-under 213.
View the Masters recordbook
Let's take a look at some of the bests and worsts from third-rounds-past at The Masters:
- The best score ever shot in a Masters third round is 63, by Nick Price in 1986. That was also the first 63 shot in The Masters, and there's only been one since.
- The worst third-round score shot in any Masters since the institution of the 36-hole cut is 87, by Calvin Peete in 1983.
- The highest third-round score by a golfer who went on to win is 77, and that's happened twice. First, Sam Snead did it in 1952. And Nick Faldo did it in 1989.
Faldo, on the other hand, had to go low in the final round to make up for his 77 - he shot 65 the next day. And then he beat Scott Hoch in a playoff.
The 54-hole record at The Masters is almost certainly safe. Only Watson has a chance at it. That record is 201 (shared by Raymond Floyd and Tiger Woods), meaning Watson will have to shoot 64 to tie it.
- 10:15 a.m. - Rory McIlroy
- 10:25 a.m. - Jason Day, Joost Luiten
- 10:35 a.m. - Jose Maria Olazabal, Darren Clarke
- 10:45 a.m. - Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sandy Lyle
- 10:55 a.m. - Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland
- 11:05 a.m. - Chris Kirk, Martin Kaymer
- 11:15 a.m. - a-Oliver Goss, Francesco Molinari
- 11:25 a.m. - Nick Watney, Thongchai Jaidee
- 11:35 a.m. - Bill Haas, Thorbjorn Olesen
- 11:55 a.m. - Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler
- 12:05 p.m. - Steven Bowditch, Brendon de Jonge
- 12:15 p.m. - Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose
- 12:25 p.m. - Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer
- 12:35 p.m. - Steve Stricker, Larry Mize
- 12:45 p.m. - Mike Weir, K.J. Choi
- 12:55 p.m. - Henrik Stenson, Stewart Cink
- 1:05 p.m. - Lee Westwood, Brandt Snedeker
- 1:15 p.m. - Louis Oosthuizen, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
- 1:35 p.m. - Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar
- 1:45 p.m. - Kevin Stadler, Jamie Donaldson
- 1:55 p.m. - Stephen Gallacher, Russell Henley
- 2:05 p.m. - Jim Furyk, Kevin Streelman
- 2:15 p.m. - Fred Couples, Jimmy Walker
- 2:25 p.m. - Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth
- 2:35 p.m. - Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt
- 2:45 p.m. - Bubba Watson, John Senden
There have never been two albatrosses in the same Masters, but there have been as many as three aces in the same Masters. In 2004, there were even holes-in-one in consecutive groups.
Check out the lists of holes-in-one and double eagles at The Masters, along with facts and trivia about each type of shot:
Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus gathered on the first tee at Augusta National Golf Club this morning and teed off the 2014 Masters as honorary starters.
It's the third year the "Big 3" have been together in the role. Palmer's been doing it since 2007, Nicklaus joined him in 2010, and Player made it three in 2012.
How long might these guys continue in the role? I'm not trying to be morbid - believe me, I hope all three of these legends are around as long as possible - but Arnie is 84 years old, Player is 79 and Nicklaus is 74. (Hard to believe, isn't it?) Of course, Gene Sarazen served as Masters honorary starter until the ripe old age of 99!
But eventually, we'll have to say goodbye to these legends, and welcome someone new in the role. Who might that be?
There are two golfers who I think are the most obvious next-in-line for honorary starter duties: Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw. Watson is one of the most-honored and best golfers of all-time. Crenshaw is the walking emobidment of golf tradition. Both are 2-time Masters champions. Watson is 65, nine years younger than Nicklaus, and Crenshaw is 62. Crenshaw serves as master of ceremonies at the Champions Dinner, a role he inherited from Byron Nelson.
A little behind those two in age is Fred Couples, who will be a hugely popular honorary starter someday. Couples is 54. Nick Faldo is two years older than Couples, a 3-time Masters winner, and one of only three Masters champions to win back-to-back. But is he someone the Augusta National poobahs would ask? After all, Faldo wasn't that well-liked in his prime. I doubt Faldo would get the call - but there's a lot of time between now and when the idea of employing Faldo might come up. Faldo's reputation is mellowing all the time. Who knows. Couples is a lock, however, if the timing is right for him.
What about younger guys? One I think we might see as an honorary starter someday is Jose Maria Olazabal, 2-time Masters champ who has a lot of the same spirit-of-the-game qualities as Crenshaw.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods? That's a long way off. You know Mickelson would do it if ask, and you know he'll someday be asked if the timing is right. Woods? Who knows whether Augusta National will be willing to ask him; who knows whether he'll be willing to do it. Then again, Nicklaus once said, categorically, he would never serve as honorary starter. And yet, there he is in the photo above.
(Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
And that means that we'll hear plenty today about the "par-3 jinx." As everyone knows by now, no golfer has won the Par-3 Contest and The Masters Tournament in the same year.
But there is no jinx; there's just no reason why any golfer should win both in the same year. Winning the Masters is hard, after all. It's a 72-hole grind that is taken deadly seriously by pro golfers who've dreamed of winning the tournament.
The Par-3 Contest, on the other hand, is a 9-hole "tournament" that is more like family day; it's a lark. Other points to ponder:
- Not every golfer who plays The Masters plays in the Par-3 Contest; some top contenders skip it every year.
- Not every golfer who plays in the Par-3 Contest is even entered in The Masters (and some of the Par-3 players aren't even professional golfers).
- Winners of the Par-3 Contest have gone on to win the Masters in other years; winners of the The Masters have later won the Par-3 Contest.
And does winning the Par-3 Contest even tell us that the winner is playing well and primed for The Masters? No. The Par-3 Contest is a pitch-and-putt. Winning the PGA Tour event the week prior to The Masters is far, far more indicative of form (and the previous week's winner has gone on to win The Masters). But either way, Augusta National's 18-hole course is a whole different animal.
Just because something hasn't happened (yet) is no good reason to make up a "jinx." Sometimes, the reason something hasn't happened yet is that there's no particular reason why it should have.
Augusta Par-3 Course photo gallery
Par-3 Contest winners and facts
How did the Masters Par-3 Contest begin?