There is no fair comparison to Augusta National. The other three major golf championships change venues each year. Major League Baseball, the NHL, and the NBA play their title series at the stadiums of the two teams involved. College basketball, football, and the NFL use neutral sites often severely lacking in character to determine a champion. Even legendary venues like Churchill Downs, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Roland Garros, sites that are used every year, lack the individualism, mystique, and iconic nature of Augusta.
When Tiger Woods and the best golfers on the planet descend on the Masters they are arriving at royalty. At Wimbledon you can be stuck playing on court 14 with 25 fans in attendance. At Royal Ascot and Daytona the surface throughout the track is consistent, and besides the finish line, the course looks and feels similar throughout the oval. At Augusta almost every hole has a famous shot, angle, tree, or memorable moment to reflect upon. There is nothing more traditional than Augusta National in early April.
The azaleas will be in bloom when the legends of the game drive down Magnolia Lane and tee off first on Thursday morning. Throughout the weekend shots will come dangerously close to the Eisenhower Tree and Rae's Creek. The tournament could be won or lost at Amen Corner. The contenders will be down to a small group when they cross over the Hogan Bridge on Sunday. The winner will be presented the Green Jacket in Butler Cabin.
If Woods wins it will be his first major title since the 2008 U.S. Open and his first Masters victory since 2005. Tiger has won at Augusta four times. Bubba Watson is hoping to become the first back-to-back winner of the Masters since Woods in 2001 and 2002. A European has not claimed the title since Angel Cabrera in 2009. Phil Mickelson can tie Woods with his fourth Green Jacket. Only Jack Nicklaus with six titles has won more frequently than Woods.
After 12 straight years without a playoff to determine the champion, there have been four such overtime tournaments in the last 10 years. The Masters has been decided by three strokes or less 15 straight times since Woods smashed the field by a dozen shots in 1997.
Whoever wins and however it happens will become a part of history. Augusta National is a breeding ground for tradition. It is a national treasure.