Following professional sports is one of the most enjoyable and thrilling pastimes there is. The excitement, the anticipation that can be derived from it is simply unmatched and just cannot be found in any other hobby or pastime, at least it is what and how all sports fans feel about it. And it is not just a passing fancy or anything temporary for many if not all sports buffs, as it actually approaches the level of being a major part of their lifestyle. There are even some who even plan or build up their schedule around major tournaments, or at least to make sure that they provide ample time for it. Then you also consider the passion and the involvement that they get from the sport or game of their choice, and it only rises in intensity and excitement when fans follow major sports tournaments.
Anyone who has followed different professional sports knows that some of it features different kinds of tournaments each year. While there are also leagues based on major professional sports that feature only one season or tournament each year, like professional basketball, baseball, and football. Many tournaments based on a single sport also abound, like the various tournaments in tennis, golf and others. It offers a chance for different winners as well plenty of opportunities for athletes to win more prize money. And of course the fans are treated to even more exciting moments and chances to see their favorites athletes perform and compete some more.
Golf: The Major Tournaments that Help Define It
Golf, as everyone is quite aware, is one of the premier sports in the world. Tens of millions play it and participate in its many tournaments, both the big time, high stakes ones and minor tourneys that are held more in the spirit of fun and friendly competition than anything else. The popularity and widespread practice of playing golf is unmistakable, and this is true for most of the world’s countries, and not just relegated to a few nations or a specific region in the world. The tournaments that are held all year round offer varying benefits and opportunities for its participants. At the highest levels of the game, there is no question that the top players are right up there among the other elite athletes from different sports, as far as financial rewards and recognition from the public is concerned. And there are several major tournaments, although if only the very top tournaments are going to be discussed, there are actually four, and these are the following: The Masters Tournament, The US Open Championship, The British Open, and The PGA Championship.
A better view and understanding of the four major tournaments could be obtained by a short summary and review of each one. It would give a much better perspective about each of the four tournaments importance and relevance in the world of golf, as well as why the world’s top players, such as Tiger Woods, give such importance and stress upon it.
• The Masters Tournament – The Masters Tournament is a tournament that is hosted as an invitational and played at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The tournament is played during the weekend ending the 2nd Sunday of April. The Masters feature two distinct characteristics, one being that it is the only major tournament that is played in the very same venue each year, at the Augusta National Golf Club. Another is that is the only major golf tournament that does not allow the use of so-called alternates as replacement for players that are qualified and yet do not enter the tournament. Those qualified players might have not entered because of injuries. It invites the smallest field, usually less than 100 players, although the top 50 golfers of the world right before the tourney is held are assured of participation.
• US Open Championship – The US Open Championship is the recognized championship of the United States Golf Association, and is regarded as played on very different courses that usually have tight fairways, difficult pin positions, very challenging greens, which demands an unusually high degree of accuracy from players, particularly with respect to plays on driving and approach. This tournament is also known for having a strict exempt qualifiers list, which lists recent major champions and golf players that are ranked quite highly on the world rankings. Also included are the high ranked players on the previous year’s money list from all over the world, as well as the leading amateurs from the most recent USGA events. Most of the 156 person field enters the tournament through by going through two rounds of qualification events. The US Open Championships also continue to have an 18-hole playoff should players continue to be tied after four rounds.
• The British Open (also known as the Open Championship in Britain) – The British Open carries the distinction of being known as the original “Open” championship, even though the very first edition was only held for British professional golfers. Additional respect and reverence is given to the tournament for its maintenance of the tradition of the tradition of links play that actually goes back to the beginning of the game in Scotland. The tournament is organized by the R & A, which is an offshoot of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. It is usually played on a links style course in either England or Scotland. Leading golf players from around the world are given the chance to play in the tournament by the R & A through different qualifying events held on all continents. Additional final qualifying events are held in the UK before the main tournament starts. The tournament winner receives the coveted and famous Claret Jug, a trophy dating back to 1872 and where the champion’s name is engraved on its base.
• The PGA Championship – The PGA Championship is usually played at a parkland club in the United States, and the PGA does not usually sets the course to be as difficult as the courses that are chosen for the US Open. Competitors are able to join the tournament by joining qualifiers that are held among members of the PGA of America. Recent champions of professional major tournaments, as well as leading professionals in the world rankings are also invited to participate. It is also the only major tournament that invites all the winners of PGA Tour events during the year prior to the holding of the tournament.
A Look at the Masters – The First Major Tournament for the Year
Each year presents interesting stories and sidelights that always attracts the interest of golfing fans as well the media. There are many different tournaments played all year round, but the major interest really begins with the Masters, which this year would be held on April 5 to 8 at Augusta National Golf Club, its traditional site. This year’s tourney will be the 75th edition of the event, and it is once again highly anticipated, especially since it is hoped that this year’s edition would provide as much excitement as the one held last year.
As far as the list of those who have strong and very real chances at winning the title this year, you have to go with some familiar names, if only to be rather safe in making any kind of predictions. Of course, predictions in sports are some of the most exciting and debatable, and yet that is the essence of having discussions in the first place. Obviously, any discussion this year would have to start with last year’s winner, Charl Schwartzel. Then you also have the number one ranked player today, Luke Donald, and the winner of the tourney a couple of years back, Phil Mickelson.
Of course, any list will probably not feel complete if Tiger Woods is left out. He has had decent finishes the last couple of years, finishing at fourth each time. Although an asterisk has to be put in his Master’s appearance and performance this year since he has just withdrawn from playing in the WGC Cadillac Championship, citing a leg injury. The timing of the injury is obviously very bad, seeing how close it is to the start of the masters, which is going to be held in the first weekend of April (April 5 to 8). In the coming days, Wood’s condition will have to be closely guarded and monitored to see if he will be able to make an appearance at Augusta at all.