It's here. The greatest tournament of the year that golfers everywhere dream of winning from the first time they pick up a club. We've all had to birdie the last hole or make a long putt to don the coveted green jacket. In fact most of us probably have a dozen green jackets in our imaginary closet, and we'll continue to add more as the years go on. There's no shame in admitting it, that's just how special the Masters is. It's the one tournament that every golfer wishes they could play in, and if not play in it, at least witness in person. I had the opportunity to go for the first time in 2011. It was on a Sunday, and it was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. Not a blade of grass out of place, not a weed in sight, and the sound of the Sunday roars echoing throughout the grounds. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Golfer or not, if it's not already on your bucket list, cross out that sky dive and replace it with the Masters. There's no experience quite like it.
Things got started off this morning at 6:45 CST, and you can bet your life I'll be watching The Golf Channel while I'm eating my morning oatmeal. There won't be any Cowboys playing that early, but I don't want to miss a minute of golf if I don't have to. Warning to drivers in Tulsa, this means I might get to work in record time tomorrow whether you're in my way or not.
The important players in the field get going at 8:57 CST. Morgan Hoffmann, playing in his first Masters, will be the first Cowboy to tee it up. He hasn't played since his fourth place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago, but I can assure you he is ready both physically and mentally...he's been preparing for this moment his whole life! This week he has been doing a video diary, and he seems to really be enjoying himself and trying to make the most of this experience. I'm excited to see him get out there and make a statement in his first visit to Augusta. There will be nerves (Rory McIlroy even admitted this is the only tournament that makes him nervous), but Morgan does a good job of staying calm and collected on the golf course which will be very beneficial this week.
The next Cowboy to tee it up is Hunter Mahan. He'll be stepping up to the first tee at 11:53 CST with James Hahn and Mikko Ilonen. This is Hunter's eighth consecutive trip to Augusta and ninth overall. He played in 2003 as an amateur after securing an invitation by finishing runner-up in the 2002 U.S. Amateur. Hunter has played well at the Masters, finishing in the top-10 twice ('09, '10) and T-12 in 2012. Last year he finished T-26 with a four day total of 292 (4-over). Hunter comes into this week perfect on the year in regards to making the cut. He is nine-for-nine, and I don't see that streak coming to an end this week. Even though he only has one top-10 this year (T-3 at the Frys.com Open), he has played well enough to be in the conversation most weekends. If he can put a low score on the board the first two days, he'll be in the conversation once again this weekend.
Last off (literally last of the day) is Rickie Fowler. He is in the final group of the day at 12:59 CST. Playing with Jason Day and Sergio Garcia, this will be one of the best groups on the course. The patrons will be plentiful surrounding this group...not only for these three talented players, but also from the overflow that will be watching some guy named Tiger who will be in the group directly in front of them. Last year's T-5 at the Masters sparked Rickie's historical 2014 Major run that saw him finish in the top-5 in all four Majors, a feat that only two other players have ever accomplished (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods). Rickie is also coming into Augusta having made the cut in every event he has entered this year. He has one top-10 out of those 7 events, but if last year's Masters is any indicator, things will start to turn around starting tomorrow. He lives for Majors, and I fully expect to see him in contention on Sunday as he starts another historical Major run.
Feeling like a kid on Christmas right now...go Pokes!