Beginner’s guide to The Masters: Key things to know ahead of the major at Augusta National

When is The Masters? What time does coverage start? How can I watch all the action? All you need to know and key TV times for the first major of the year, taking place exclusively live from Thursday, April 11 on Sky Sports, including Featured Groups, Amen Corner feed and much more

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The Masters is upon us and you can watch all the tremendous action exclusively live on Sky Sports

The Masters takes place at Augusta National from Thursday, April 11, exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf; Jon Rahm is the defending champion, Rory McIlroy attempts to complete the career Grand Slam and Tiger Woods is set to feature once again.

But why is The Masters such an important date in the sporting calendar? Ahead of the first golf major of the year, we look at some of the most common questions asked about the event…

What is The Masters and how do I watch?

The Masters is one of the four major championships in men’s professional golf and is truly unique in the sense that it is the only one to be held at the same location every year, the world-famous Augusta National golf course.

First played in 1934, this year’s tournament will be the 88th in its history – and you can watch wall-to-wall coverage from 2pm over the first two rounds on Thursday April 11 and Friday April 12, with Featured Group action and regular updates from around the course available on Sky Sports Golf until the global broadcast window begins at 8pm.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast, Sir Nick Faldo says Rory McIlroy should focus on practicing with his irons if he is to have a chance of winning The Masters

There will be lots of extra action throughout all four days via the red button on Sky Sports Golf, along with Sky Q and Sky Glass, providing plenty of bonus feeds and allowing you to follow players’ progress through various parts of Augusta’s famous layout.

The notorious Amen Corner stream will also be available and focuses on the famous three-hole stretch from the 11th, while a feed of the fourth, fifth and sixth holes will go live each day as soon as the opening group reach that part of the course, as well as one covering the 15th and 16th.

Sky Sports Golf will have build-up content and provide occasional live updates from the course before the global broadcast window starts at 8pm for the third round and 7pm for the final day, with early action available throughout via the red button from 3pm on both Saturday April 13 and Sunday April 14.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reveals his love of golf and recalls his memories of attending The Masters

  • Who has won The Masters? Every winner at Augusta…

Who makes up The Masters field?

The top 50 in the world at the end of the previous calendar year earn an invite, as do those inside the top 50 during the week before the tournament takes place, while previous winners hold a lifetime exemption and any other major winners from the last five years are also included in the field.

The top 12 and ties from last year’s Masters are allowed to return, as are the top four and ties from the other three majors in 2023, with every winner at a full-field PGA Tour event – the ones not played the same week as a major – over the past 12 months also securing a spot.

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From his 1997 Masters victory to claiming his 15th major title in 2019, we look back at the best moments from Tiger Woods’ five wins at Augusta National

The last three winners of The Players and all qualifiers for last season’s Tour Championship earn an invite, plus the champions of five of the world’s biggest amateur titles, while The Masters committee can also invite a player who has not qualified.

This year, there are 89 players set to tee it up at Augusta National, with Rahm returning as defending champion and world No 1 Scheffler looking to win the event for a second time, bang in form after taking The Players title for a second straight year.

Rahm is part of a strong LIV Golf contingent in the field, including reigning PGA champion Brooks Koepka and former Open champion Cameron Smith, while McIlroy arrives with another opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam.

US Open champion Wyndham Clark is among the rookies in the field, FedExCup winner Viktor Hovland will look to bounce back from a slow start to the season, while Woods – a five-time winner of The Masters, including his famous triumph in 2019 – has confirmed his return to action for the event.

The final place in the field was available to the winner of the Valero Texas Open, with Akshay Bhatia taking that spot after beating Denny McCarthy in a play-off following a dramatic final round.

Who won The Masters last year?

Rahm returns as defending champion after last year’s four-shot victory over former Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Koepka, who went on to win the PGA Championship the following month.

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Watch highlights from the final round of Jon Rahm’s 2023 Masters victory

The Spaniard trailed by four strokes heading into a marathon final day, where players had to return early to complete their third rounds, with Rahm still two behind Koepka when the pair went out in the final group in the fourth round.

Early errors from Koepka saw Rahm move to the top of the leaderboard inside six holes and he would never relinquish control as he fired a three-under 69 to comfortably hold off the chasing pack and claim a fourth win of 2023.

Rahm – who four-putted his opening hole of the tournament – ended the week on 12 under to capture his second major title to follow his 2021 US Open triumph.

Which LIV Golf players could be in contention?

Masters champion Rahm returns to Augusta National now under the umbrella of LIV Golf after his defection to the Saudi-backed tour in December of last year.

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Sir Nick Faldo says Jon Rahm will have to step up the intensity of his play if he is to be in with a chance of defending his Masters title

He is one of 13 LIV players scheduled to tee it up this week, along with his final-round competitors from a year ago, Mickelson and Koepka. Former winners Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel all feature, while Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith also qualify as major winners from the previous five years.

Tyrrell Hatton – who left for LIV along with Rahm – earned his spot after qualifying for the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship last August, while Adrian Meronk is in thanks to finishing 2023 inside the world’s top 50, and Joaquin Niemann accepted a special invitation following three top-five finishes on the DP World Tour.

Ahead of The Masters, Garcia issued an early warning to the rest of the field, the 2017 champion saying those from LIV are “coming for that Green Jacket”. And his positivity was backed by five-time major winner Koepka, who said “I like the chances [of a LIV winner]”, adding “a lot of guys are playing well”.

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From balls in the water to major putting problems, we take a look back at times when players have struggled badly at the Masters

Who are among The Masters favourites?

As well as the LIV contingent, featuring most prominently the defending-champion Rahm, 2022 champion Scottie Scheffler arrives as the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite – the world No 1 followed a dominant victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational by defending his title at The Players last month.

McIlroy has been in questionable form, but he will once more be hugely motivated at Augusta National as he gets another opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam. It’s now 10 years since the last of McIlroy’s major wins and The Masters is still missing from his collection.

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Nick Dougherty believes Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy will all be competing to wear the green jacket in Augusta and hopes McIlroy can complete a career grand slam to write his name in history

Woods is back in action for the first time since February, with this year’s event marking the fifth anniversary of his iconic fifth Masters victory, while Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay and Ludvig Åberg are arguably the highest-profile contenders searching for a maiden major title.

What is the prize money and how much does the winner get?

The prize money for the 2024 contest has yet to be confirmed, although last year’s total purse sat $18m, with Rahm taking home a cool $3.24m for winning the Green Jacket.

Koepka and Mickelson finished in a tie for second and received approximately $1.58m each, while a top-10 finish earns you a minimum of around $500,000.

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Sir Nick Faldo believes Scottie Scheffler’s attitude to golf is what sets him apart from his rivals. Listen to the full interview on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast

Where is Augusta National and what’s it like to visit as a fan?

The Masters is held at Augusta National golf course in Augusta, Georgia in the United States. Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, the course was designed by Jones and Alister MacKenzie and opened for play in 1932. Since 1934, it has played host to The Masters tournament.

Mobile phones are strictly banned from the course, with even cameras banned outside of practice days. Anyone caught with any offending items is asked to leave the course. If a patron needs to make an emergency call, there are phone banks located around the course they can use.

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Some of the other rules include patrons not being allowed to lie down on the grounds, while running is also forbidden. In terms of dress code, backward-facing hats are a strict no-no, jeans are not allowed and shoes must be worn at all times – with high heels and flip flops on the no list.

But while patrons may have rules to follow, they are far from short-changed in terms of the plentiful and affordable food and drink options available. The Pimento Cheese sandwich – a staple at Augusta – costs the small matter of $1.50!

Anything else I need to know?

Although golfing terminology largely remains the same as any other tournament, you may come across a few words and phrases during The Masters that may not be as familiar…

Amen Corner – Refers to the three-hole stretch from the 11th to 13th at Augusta National, seen as the most difficult section of the course. One of the bonus feeds available throughout the week live on Sky Sports.

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Eddie Pepperell demonstrates how to play the famous Amen Corner at The Masters with Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir taking on the role of caddie!

Azaleas – These are one of most famous plants on display at Augusta National and during The Masters. All the course’s holes are named after trees or shrubs present at the golf course and one of the spots where azaleas are most prevalent is alongside the 13th hole, which bears its name.

Butler Cabin – Placed near the 18th hole, this is where The Masters winners are presented with their Green Jacket. Jack Nicklaus was the first, in 1965, to conduct his post-victory interview from inside this building.

Champions Dinner – The winner of last year’s tournament hosts an exclusive dinner for all previous Masters champions, and chairman Fred Ridley, on the Tuesday night of the week of the Masters. Jon Rahm will continue that tradition with a Spanish-themed dinner this year.

Crow’s Nest – Located above the library and champions locker room, up a steep set of stairs and on the third floor of the Augusta National clubhouse, this a famous hideaway reserved only for amateurs competing at the tournament. Players to have stayed in the Crow’s Nest as amateurs who later went on to win The Masters include Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods.

First and second nine – Rather than the ‘front nine’ or ‘back nine’ being used to describe the split in holes at Augusta National, they refer to holes one to nine as the ‘first nine’ and 10 to 18 as the ‘second nine’. It’s a small difference, sure, but adds to the unique prestige of the place.

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Dame Laura Davies believes Scottie Scheffler will be the favourite heading into The Masters next month after defending The Players Championship

First cut – Augusta has what is referred to as the ‘first cut’ and ‘second cut’ when players miss the fairway, as opposed to the rough you would find at other golf courses.

Green Jacket – The concept of a ‘Green Jacket’ was first introduced in 1937 to help differentiate Augusta National members from other patrons. Since Sam Snead’s victory in 1949, the winner of every Masters tournament has been rewarded one, with the jacket presented to the new champion by the winner of the previous year’s tournament.

Hogan Bridge – This bridge takes players over Rae’s Creek and to the green on the par-three 12th hole as part of ‘Amen Corner’. It is named after Ben Hogan, to mark his record-setting low score of 274 for his four rounds at the 1953 tournament.

Honorary Starters – Most years at The Masters, a group of legendary golfers are invited to hit the ceremonial tee shots on the first hole to signal the start of the tournament.

Magnolia Lane – This is perhaps the most famous driveway in all of America, welcoming the competing golfers to Augusta National in the most spectacular way. The road is 330 yards long, lined with magnolia trees on each side.

Patrons – This is what the people in attendance at The Masters are referred to, not fans or spectators.

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Wayne Riley goes behind the scenes at Augusta National to show you what it’s like to attend the Masters as a patron

Pine straw – The lush fairways and pristine greens may well be the best-known features of Augusta National, but covering the ground between many of the holes and at the base of a number of trees is pine straw, which makes for some tricky lies for players from time to time.

Rae’s Creek – This is the daunting stretch of water that famously flows in front of the 12th green. At its widest inside Augusta National, the creek runs 60 feet wide and four feet deep. It is surrounded by golf’s most colourful backdrop of blooming azaleas and dogwoods.

Sarazen Bridge – The first bridge at Augusta to be named after a player, done so to commemorate Gene Sarazen’s ‘Shot Heard Round the World’. It was unveiled in 1955 to mark the 20th anniversary of Sarazen’s famous albatross at the 15th hole which is where the bridge resides.

Tea Olive – This is the name of the opening hole at Augusta National. In keeping with the tradition the naming of holes on the course, Tea Olive – a shrub native to eastern Asia – can be found on the right of the fairway and at the rear of the green. No Masters golfer has ever birdied the first hole in all four rounds.

Who will win The Masters? Watch live from April 11-14 exclusively on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins with Featured Groups on Thursday April 11 from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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