Tag Archive | tiger woods

For Merely the Cost of One Vuvuzela,* You Can Cure “Sporticus Toomuchicus”

WASHINGTON, DC – Hospitals across America are spilling over with men of all ages, babbling, drooling, confused. Their hands are cramped like steel around TV remotes, tortilla chips and guacamole smeared on their shirts.

My balls are bigger than yours, soccer.

My balls are bigger than yours, soccer.

Women, meanwhile, are taking up 357 magnums (of wine) against this apocalypse and locking themselves into their compounds with their girlfriends, small dogs, Wok & Roll fried rice, and the new season of “Orange Is the New Black.”

What is happening?

“We’re not sure, but for now we’re calling it Sporticus toomuchicus, or ‘Oversportssaturation,’ said Dr. Gina Brower, attending ER physician at George Washington Hospital.

“It’s going to be tough for them,” she continued, stifling what seemed to be a small giggle. “I mean, a man can only watch so many sports. He only has two eyes and one brain. Well, maybe one brain. We’re not sure about that either.”

With that she hastened away to assist a patient, screaming and covered in blood. Or possibly hot wings sauce.

It’s an occurrence unlike that we’ve ever seen on the calendars before. Conditions were already difficult last week with concurrent professional hockey playoffs, professional basketball playoffs, the French Open, and the possible Triple Crown all jockeying with each other for attention (ha ha, see what we did there? “jockeying?”).

But now, the twisted conjurings of Wednesday’s full moon and next week’s summer solstice have added even more simultaneous ingredients to their dark magic: the men’s golf U.S. Open and the men’s soccer World Cup.

"I'm not laughing at you," says Brower. "I'm laughing at you...a LOT."

“I’m not laughing AT you,” says Brower. “I’m laughing at you…a LOT.”

In other words, as the NBA and NHL finals continue, now two other major world sports events have added even further layers of pressure to a country of men already reeling from Rafa Nadal’s fifth-straight consecutive French Open title and Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes’ perfect, 300-foot laser to punch out the Angels’ Howie Kendrick at home plate—possibly the best baseball throw ever.

Members of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Committee seemed confused at soccer’s sudden surge. “Starting a major tournament on a Thursday? Well, that’s just crazy. No one’s going to watch that,” said one rep who asked to remain anonymous as he stealthily began filling out a bracket of some sort.

Meanwhile, athletes themselves expressed frustration. “Wait, what do you mean ‘World’ Cup?” asked a puzzled Lebron James, massaging a calf cramp and drinking a Lebron-Sprite 6 Mix as we threw up in our mouths a little watching him drink it. “But I thought Miami was the World Champions. We have to share? Damn, I’m going back to Cleveland.”

“U.S. Open?” said Tiger Woods, sipping from a coconut on a Barbados beach. “Oh you mean that tournament I won six years ago as my last major before I completely jacked up my family’s lives? Nah, my back still hurts,” adding “Yeah babe, right there,” as he urged a massage from his girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. Who looks nothing remotely like his last wife. At all.

Surely Landon Donovan, the only soccer player most American’s would recognize but was cut from the team last month, could help us understand.

“F*&% off.”

Finally, in New York, we spoke with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he practiced for Game Four against the L.A. Kings.

“Oh yes, well you see, soccer is a game of grace and strength. Being a goalie myself, I understand how the forwards and the defensemen must collaborate to…”

(Editor’s note: Being Americans, we kinda dozed off there, sorry.)

Despite our own lack of interest in the World Cup, it does seem we are in the minority. Men, and actually, quite a few women are in for some difficult days ahead as they attempt to follow multiple major contests until finally, July 4 everything ends and we can enjoy our AMURRRCAN independence holiday.

Then there’s only pro baseball for three months.

So be careful what you wish for.

Editor’s note: Most of this story is fake. There is nothing wrong with watching lots of sports. We women really do like sports. And wine. And some Americans even like soccer. *And those godforsaken vuvuzelas have been outlawed for the World Cup. So go USA!

 

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Baby, Baby, Baby, Ohhhh (Crap). Plus the Extra Point’s Future, Billion Dollar Brackets, and Tiger Declawed

—1—“The kick is up, and it…is…” no longer existent?

So, baby, you mean, baby, if I can't beat these charges, baby, I can't be an NFL kicker? Ohhhh.

So, baby, you mean, baby, if I can’t beat these charges, baby, I can’t be an NFL kicker? Ohhhh.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested this week that the league do away with the extra point or “PAT,” point after touchdown. “The extra point is almost automatic,” he told NFL Network Monday. “I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd attempts. So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.” Instead he suggests making a touchdown worth seven points instead of six, with an extra play after from the scrimmage line worth an eighth point. But, if the team fails, their touchdown is only worth six points.

You would think concussions and crime would be enough “excitement” for the NFL any given day, but I must admit I am intrigued.

—2—Ahhhh, Warren Buffett. Gazillionaire, Philanthropist, College Basketball Fan. And now he and Quicken Loans are offering a $1 billion cash prize to anyone who correctly predicts this year’s men’s NCAA Tournament Bracket in the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. Unfortunately, the odds of getting all 63 games right, are around 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s nine quintillion. But if you do win, you get 40 annual installments of $25 million or a lump sum payment of $500 million. If there are multiple winners, the pot is divided, and the 20 brackets closest to the perfect outcome will still receive $100,000 each from Quicken Loans to purchase or remodel a home or refinance a mortgage. Contest starts March 3.

—3—There are two new sheriffs in Tennis Town. If tennis players wore hats, spurs and funny mustaches. China’s Li Na had been contemplating retirement, but defeated Dominika Cibulkova (who had ousted #3 Maria Sharapova) for the Australian Open crown, and at 31 became the oldest women’s champion in the Open Era. Known for her funny remarks in broken English, Li joked in post-match interviews about her husband and his snoring, and thanked her agent “for making me rich.”

On the men’s side, it was Switzerland’s #8 Stanislas Wawrinka who finally hoisted the trophy after defeating #1 Rafael Nadal. Nadal had previously knocked out Roger Federer to reach the Australian Open final for the third time. It would have been Rafa’s 14th Grand Slam title. But he struggled with several small but nagging injuries, including a blister on his serving hand that drew gasps from the crowd when one TV camera got a little too close. Wawrinka was the first man in 21 years to beat the #1 and #2-ranked players (Novak Djokovic) en route to a Grand Slam title.

—4—For the first time in his career, world #1 Tiger Woods failed to make the PGA Tour’s secondary cut at Torrey Pines in San Diego. His 7-over-par 79 was his worst in an event he has won seven times. And it all means….meh, nothing. It’s the start of the season, and now, with girlfriend skier Lindsey Vonn sitting out the Olympics, they’ll enjoy a few free days before heading to Dubai.

5Finally, Saturday Night Live did two great sports parodies on “Weekend Update” the other night, one with Russian villagewoman, “Olya Povlatsky.” “So Olya, are your surprised the Olympics are coming to Russia?” “I surprised anyone would come to Russia…What was the other options, Haiti or middle of ocean?” The other had Kenan Thompson playing the Miami police officer who arrested Justin Bieber for drinking and drag racing. “You must have been shocked to pull someone over and discover it was Justin Bieber.” “Oh Cecily, I work in Miami. Nothin’ shocks me. When I pull somebody over, they usually got a tiger in the back seat, and an alligator in the trunk to guard their cocaine. It’s the only city where NBA players are the best behaved people.”

High Five Headlines: A Crap-Ton of Football. And a Little Men’s Figure Skating.

1–Like most kids, I was a very logical little girl. So I never could understand why our U.S. service academy football teams always seemed like sort of an afterthought. They were America’s smartest, bravest, and fittest young men, weren’t they? So why didn’t we see them in the sports headlines, like, every single day? I didn’t grasp that the academies don’t have as much flexibility in recruiting like other schools, and these soldiers were also tasked with the tiny burden of defending our country and that football might not be their top priority.

Can somebody help me up, please?

I’ve fallen since last season, and I can’t get up. (No, really, lil’ help here?)

Except for one day a year—the annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, when the U.S. Military Academy and the Naval Academy square off in what is considered by many to be college football’s greatest rivalry. Unfortunately, the last decade or so, it really hasn’t been. Navy has won every year since 2004, including Saturday 34-7 over an Army team that has averaged fewer than three wins a season since 1998. Navy’s Keenan Reynolds set a Division I record for quarterbacks when he rushed for his 29th touchdown of the year and will lead the 8-4 Midshipmen to the Armed Forces Bowl against Middle Tennessee State. As for Army, well at least they will always be our heroes, long after their football careers end.

2–Speaking of struggling programs, I usually try not to focus on my local Washington Redskins, but they were the NFL’s top story last week, so…

OK, so Coach Mike Shanahan “shut down” quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season, ostensibly to rest the knee he blew out in last year’s playoffs. He won’t play at all, while backup Kirk Cousins has taken the helm. RGIII was literally in the national sports news every day the last year—fans and non-fans alike wanted to see the affable, witty, Subway Sandwich-loving Offensive Rookie of the Year return to full strength. He did not. Challenged by his knee, a weak defense and a shaky relationship with Shanahan, RGIII’s sophomore year was middling at best, with a bunch of icky stats I don’t even have the heart to go into.

Then there is the Family Shanahan: Coach Mike, who by most accounts seems to be lobbying to be fired so he can depart his Skins losing legacy fully paid. His son Kyle is the offensive coordinator—therefore having a direct hand in RGIII’s performance. Would he be fired too? Or follow Dad if he quits? Or stay on and try to atone for the “RedSins” of the father? To be continued. Wish *I* could authorize a shutdown.

3—Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was named the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner by a landslide Saturday over five other players, including last year’s winner Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron–who I calculate got about 1/16 of the camera time as his girlfriend (you know it by now, say it with me) Miss Alabama Katherine Webb in the audience. Winston thanked his family and coaches ebulliently, noting several times his gratitude for the “truth” being on his side. Winston was cleared last week of potential rape charges from a 2012 incident, and will lead FSU into the national championship game against Auburn January 6. The alleged victim, meanwhile, has had to withdraw from FSU. I’ve said it before—no one knows what happened but the accuser and Winston. There are unscrupulous people out there of both genders. It’s just sad to me that one party is starting a great career, while the other is likely launching one at Taco Bell. But the law has spoken, so we move forward.

4–Sometimes good just isn’t good enough. Head football coach Mack Brown resigned from the University of Texas Saturday, but will stay on to coach the Longhorns against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. Texas went 8-4 this year, but detractors still have questioned Brown since the program began declining—despite double-digit win seasons from 2001-2009—after its 2005 national championship. Coaches come and go every year, but if you know “Friday Night Lights,” you have some inkling of what football means to the Lone Star State. Brown’s departure is major news because he has had what is, in his words, “the best coaching job at the premier football program in the country” since 1998.

Another reason football fans’ antennae were up over this one was the possibility of Alabama coach Nick Saban coming aboard, and he’s won the last two national championships. But the hope didn’t last long—Saban signed a deal last week to remain with the Crimson Tide for roughly $7 million a year, a raise of about $1.5 million a year and more than that of most NFL coaches.

5—American 2010 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek will not be able to defend his title at the Sochi Winter Games due to ongoing issues with a torn labrum in his hip. Lysacek hadn’t competed since his win in Vancouver four years ago, but had remained optimistic for Sochi. During his comeback attempt last year, he experienced an abdominal tear, followed by the hip injury, which doctors feared could be permanent if he did not stop.

But in happier news, skier (and Tiger Woods paramour) Lindsey Vonn returned to the snow for practice runs in Colorado this weekend for the first time in the nine days since she reinjured her right knee. She had torn it completely February 5 of last year. Vonn hopes to return to competition next weekend and keep her Olympic hopes alive. She is the defending downhill gold medalist, holds four World Cup titles and is considered the most accomplished Alpine skier in American history.

A Musical “High Five!”

1) Biogenesis Bungles via The Bangles
It’s already a Manic Monday for Yankees third baseman Alex Rodruiguez–youngest player to hit 500 homers, then 600. He had the most lucrative contract ever, and is penciled in for tonight’s game against the White Sox. But today we’ll learn his punishment for alleged involvement in the Biogenesis clinic PED scandal and whether it will be the longest suspension ever or even a lifetime ban, depending on the “drug terms test agreement” or the “best interest for baseball clause.” If he is suspended, he will likely appeal. Stay tuned.

Who needs a walk-off when you can funk-off?

Why walk off when you can funk off?

2) Cat’s in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon (and the Master’s Jacket, and the Gary Player Cup…)
Like many women, I’m not a Tiger Woods fan, nor will I trumpet his “comeback” when he brought his numb-nuttiness on himself. But I do respect a good performance, and he had one this weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, finishing -15 for his 79th career PGA tournament win, just shy of Sam Snead’s record 82. Woods, 37, also tied his career-high round on Friday at 61. It was his fifth PGA win this season, and a warm-up for next week’s Championship. Best of all, Woods’ four-year-old son Charlie was in attendance for the first time during a Tiger win, so dad and cub got together then, you know they had a good time thennnn. (Get your tissues, guys, for this Harry Chapin classic.)

3) Cooper Controversy
Also in the shame crosshairs last week was Philadelphia Eagles receiver Riley Cooper, who is white, after a cell phone video clip of him using the “n-word” at a Kenny Chesney concert surfaced two days before training camp began. Cooper said teammates were supporting him. But other players claimed there was a definite division—not something first year coach Chip Kelly needs when the jerseys aren’t even sewn yet. The Eagles fined Cooper an undisclosed amount and excused him from camp for sensitivity counseling. Is it enough? When and how should the NFL punish its players? After recent months of DUIs and an alleged murder, I think Prince’s “Controversy” is fitting: I just can’t believe all the things people say / Controversy. / If life is just a game, we’re all just the same. Do you wanna play? / Controversy. Do you wanna play, Cooper? And other knuckleheads who make insensitive remarks or worse? Yes? Then start policing yourselves before police do it for you.

4) Once, Twice, Three Times a Walkoff…
The Texas Rangers swept their series with the L.A. Angels last week, each of the three games ending on walk-off home runs* longer than Lionel Ritchie’s career. The first came from Geovany Soto’s solo shots in the ninth on Monday; then Leonys Martin’s three-run homer in the tenth on Tuesday. Adrian Beltre provided the final insult in the ninth of the last game.

*A “walk-off home run” is a special bonus because it ends the game when the home team is behind or tied in the last inning. Home teams always bat last, so the homer gives them the lead, and they can immediately walk off the field. And while you’re walking off, check out the Commodores’ Three Times a Lady video.

5) He Works Hard for the Money
As someone who has slung more than her share of cheap beer in cheaper establishments over the years, I admit this story made me bristle at first. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees caught some serious social media flak from a photo of a restaurant receipt on which he’d left a $3 tip for a $74 bill. Whuh? Hadn’t he seen the famous Reservoir Dogs tipping debate (don’t be a Mr. Pink, guys, come on)? Then I learned it was a takeout order. Not a sit-down meal or even delivery, but takeout, when you go in and pick it up yourself. Most of us don’t tip anything at all on those; Drew actually went above and beyond. So for him and the kitchen staff who helped him out, I salute you, Donna Summer style.

“High Five”: A Jockey’s Triumph, Rainbow Gorillas, Goodbye to a Golf Great

I know I say this a lot, but the reason I write this meager little sports offering isn’t home runs and hockey goals, but the stories that stay with you, get you thinking. Or are just uber-cool. Here are five of the best headlines (out of dozens), and some other notes to know for the upcoming week:

1. Higher Power at the Preakness
Kentucky Derby winner “Orb” didn’t take the Preakness, but the real story Saturday was jockey Gary Stevens. Already a Hall-of-Famer, now-fifty-year-old Stevens retired in 2005 with debilitating knee pain and became a TV commentator. But he returned to the track in January this year after struggling with alcohol, depression, and a sense of loss that only racing could fill. Undergoing an intense physical and psychological rehabilitation program last year, he shed 25 pounds and embraced total sobriety. Riding Oxbow, Stevens led wire to wire for the win.

"Rudy" or "Rrrrow"? Either way, he will be missed.

“Rudy” or “Rrrrow!”? Either way, he will be missed.

2. Venturi Highway to Heaven
I admit I had never heard of Ken Venturi when it was announced the golfer had died of pneumonia complications at age 82. Great people die every day, and 82 is a pretty solid life.

But Venturi was the “Rudy” of golf (though quite a handsome devil). He overcame a severe stutter, suffered repeated just-this-close losses in big tournaments, struggled with lasting injuries from a car crash, and endured a years-long slump that would have most people typing up new resumes. Then in 1964, in 100-degree heat and with life-threatening dehydration, Venturi finally won his first major title at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., nearly collapsing in tears of joy and exhaustion. He became a longtime CBS golf analyst and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

PS–2013’s “Congressional” as most call it (officially the “AT&T National,” but I won’t say that until AT&T’s 4G isn’t full of it) with Tiger Woods and his frenemy Sergio Garcia starts June 27.  And on a lighter note, take a look at the video of Belgian golfer Nicolas Colsaerts at the weekend’s Volvo World Match Play, in which his ball lands in, let’s just say, a place that caused some “toilet humor.”

3. Baylor Stars Speak out on Gay Rights…and Wedding Gifts
After years of the speculation that—come on, people, we all do (out loud or in our own minds) about people with certain affectations–Baylor basketball phenom Brittney Griner has publicly confirmed she is a lesbian. Now an alum of the private Baptist school, the Phoenix Mercury WNBA rookie is openly discussing what she feels is the rainbow gorilla in the room of women’s college basketball—don’t ask, don’t tell, just rebound. She claims coaches and other advisors told her not to discuss her sexuality because it would hurt Baylor’s recruiting. More to come in the next ESPN the Magazine.   

Meanwhile, Baylor-star-turned-Redskins-QB Robert Griffin III is getting married July 6, and naturally some fans located his gift registry on Bed, Bath & Beyond. But when the 2013 Rookie of the Year Tweeted a picture of thanks—him standing in front of a mountain of opened boxes—detractors spoke then and did not hold their peace. Obviously a star athlete hardly needs help from the public to furnish a 10,000-square-foot house, so demands for him to return or donate the gifts to charity flooded his phone (as well as jokes—“put a better defense on the registry” said one Skins fan). Whatever he does, I personally want to thank him, at least, for his store choice. As a multi-platinum bridesmaid who once attended a bride registered at Tiffany, a $30 Lazy Susan option is always appreciated.

4. Jayhawks Hatch Fledgling High School Star
Whenever you doubt your kids will emulate you, take heart in this one. The #1 high school basketball recruit, Andrew Wiggins, announced last week he will attend Kansas. The 6-8 small forward (here I demonstrate “small forward” with awkward family photos) can play multiple positions and is as good a defender as offensive player. His father is former NBA player Michael Wiggins, and his mom is Canadian Olympic sprinter Marita Payne-Wiggins. They gave him great athletic genes, but they also ensure he maintains his 3.2 GPA at West Virginia’s Huntington Prep.

But, Wiggins is already a heavy favorite for the 2014 NBA Draft. Like, next year. Which is something to discuss with your kids as this year’s draft starts tomorrow. Should a player be allowed what they call a “One and Done?”—one year of college, then on to the pros? What is the proper balance between money and education? How do you prepare for a future if your original dream fails? Lebron James is doing just fine, and he didn’t go to college at all. But far more professional athletes find that dreams of fame and money lead to bankruptcy, addiction, and worse. Speaking of Lebron…

5. Playoffs Continue on Court, Ice
The Memphis Grizzlies/San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers/Miami Heat NBA matchups are now underway. Winners of the two series will meet for the finals beginning June 6. Sadly, my hometown Grizzlies (key names: Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph) were declawed Sunday 105-83 (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, once married to “Desperate Housewives’” Eva Longoria), but the teams meet again in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday. The Pacers (Roy Hibbert) will meet Lebron’s Miami Heat for Game 1 on Wednesday.

In hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks (Patrick Sharp – or as I call him, “Why Wasn’t HE Cast Cast as the New Superman?”) and the Detroit Red Wings (Henrik Zetterberg) series continues this week, along with:

  • Boston Bruins (David Krejci) vs. New York Rangers (Derick Brassard)
  • Current champions L.A. Kings (Mike Richards – also Hollywood worthy) vs. San Jose Sharks (Logan Couture)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (Evgeni Malkin) vs. Ottawa Senators (Sergei Gonchar)

Now go forth into this good week and conquer, ladies, knowing that your kids look to you, that no one can tell you how to live your life, and that you can conquer anything if you just Don’t. Give. Up.

A Tuesday High-Five

Due to Sunday’s Mother’s Day festivities (actually my weekly Once Upon a Time/Game of Thrones/Nurse Jackie/Veep wine-and-wings-fest), this report is a tad late. But my sloth is actually good because the Monday sports stars aligned so perfectly.

Let me explain in a new little ditty I’ll be trying from time to time: “High Five”—five quick sports news bits to take into the new week:

Slag-nificent Seven
It’s playoffs time for pro hockey and basketball. But even industry experts bemoan the lengthy “best-of-seven” format—until two major matchups come down to that very seventh game, and on the same Monday night. Sadly for me, New York blanked my Washington Capitals 5-0 in DC last night. But the “Boston Strong” helped the Bruins rally from three goals down and beat the Maple Leafs in OT for a second round berth.

Real Golfers of the PGA Tour
He’s a feisty Spaniard who has never won a major tournament, forced to live in the shadow of…him. The one who hurts the ones he loves, yet still is cheered. The one who wins. Well, Sunday, Sergio Garcia had had about enough of Tiger Woods, claiming Tiger purposely distracted him during a swing. Tiger’s reaction? I believe it went something like this: Ptttttt.

Tied in the last round of The Players tournament in Florida, the two sniped at and about each other both on and off camera. But Tiger won the coveted title while Sergio painfully imploded on the 17th and 18th holes, hitting his ball into the water three times. His undoing had many recalling the movie “Tin Cup” (one of my “Most Romantic Sports Movies” picks), in which former golf pro Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) has a similar meltdown while trying to regain his life and love (Rene Russo).

Dwyane Wade and his Victory Garden.

Dwyane Wade and his Victory Garden.

Flower Power
Like golf, the NBA is seeing a serious snark spike, particularly in the Miami Heat/Chicago Bulls playoff series. This week had fights, “flops” (fake falls), technical fouls, and an elegantly-dressed Heat fan using her hand to direct Chicago’s ejected Joakim Noah where to go (and it’s not the locker room).

But the story that raised the most eyebrows Wednesday was Miami player Dwyane Wade’s post-game press conference wardrobe choice—a floral print Versace jacket. Though it cost $2000, jacket comments including words like “technicolor” and “dreamcoat” were inevitable. But with the Heat leading the series 3-1 after last night, florals apparently score.

A Mound of Trouble
Baseball is not immune to verbal jabs—just not between players on the same team. But that’s exactly what happened Sunday, when legendary Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera “shushed” nearby teammate Joba Chamberlain as reporters questioned Rivera. Chamberlain responded that “nobody shushes him!” Of course reporters and bystanders heard and told of the exchange. The Yankees PR department quickly Tweeted out a picture of the two hugging, assuring fans the bro-mance was still on.

Now Serving…Kale. To Linebackers?
The Northwest has long been a haven for the health-minded. Now former Oregon football coach Chip Kelly is bringing this thinking to his new position as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach. No more taco bars and “Fast Food Fridays” (a real thing) as the team begins preliminary training. Instead, only healthy proteins ands vegetables instead of red meat and donuts. Bold step for the city that invented the cheesesteak.

OK, go boldly into this new week. Keep in mind other upcoming sports events—the San Antonio/Golden State and Indiana/New York Knicks NBA series continue tonight, and Kentucky Derby winner Orb will run in the second race of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, Saturday.

What to Watch for in the 2013 Masters

Will this year's champion be old enough to drink his champagne?

Will this year’s champion be old enough to drink his champagne?

One of the few things that makes me more impatient than playing golf is watching it.

But there is something about the Masters—the azaleas, the rolling green fairways, the coveted green jackets (which, let’s face it, kind of make you wonder what Augusta humidity does on fashion judgment)—that brings out one’s inner golf geek. Here are just a few of the players to watch the next four days:

Tiger Woods: Back in better form than ever after his…well, you know, “break” from golf and wife Elin Nordegren, Tiger has roared…no, clawed…no, let’s just say played like a mutha&#$@% to enter this year’s field as World #1 and the predicted winner. It would be his fifth Masters overall; he won his first in 1997 as the youngest player ever (21). And this year he has new girlfriend, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn at his side.

Bubba Watson: The good ole boy with the shaggy hair and penchant for pranks seeks his second consecutive jacket in the same year he and wife Angie adopted baby boy Caleb. The couple met at the University of Georgia, where he played golf and she played basketball. He’s one of the few lefties on the PGA tour and a favorite of fans and media.

Rory McIlroy: To look at McIlroy, you might mistake him for an Augusta Club shoeshine boy. The 23-year-old Irishman, however is a former World #1 with several majors to his credit. Back across the pond, McIlroy has faced confusion and criticism over his nationality—Northern Ireland vs. British vs. Irish. But for now, he’s a Floridian, enjoying a $10 million estate in Palm Beach Gardens, near legend Jack Nicklaus’ The Bear Club Golf Course. McIlroy dates Danish tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki.

Guan Tianlang: This 14-year-old Chinese amateur may be 2013’s biggest storyline. He qualified by winning the Asia-Pacific amateur Championship and is the youngest player ever to qualify for the Masters. Tiger Woods first qualified at age 19, followed by Italy’s Matteo Manassero (16) in 2010. Even Woods admits the prospect of playing this new prodigy gives him pause. “It’s frightening to think that he was born after I won my first Masters,” Woods said in an interview for Britain’s The Telegraph.

And speaking of kids, for the first time ever, Augusta National on Sunday announced it is inviting male and female junior golfers between ages 7 and 15 for the Drive, Chip and Putt Contest to be held April 6, 2014. The tournament, which is a free of charge to qualifiers from around the country, is designed to encourage boys and girls to take up the game. Register here.