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Anticipation Reaches Fever Pitch at Augusta

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TIGER WOODS
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One of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments in the Masters 77-year history is nearly upon us and I for one cannot wait until play gets under way on Thursday.

I have been at Augusta since Sunday working for Sky Sports News and the excitement amongst the galleries and the media is reaching fever pitch. There are so many storylines coming into this year's event; Tiger's return to world number one, Rory's struggles before finding form, memories of the former champions in the field and the teenage prodigies playing for the very first time. One thing is for sure that whoever dons the green jacket on Sunday will always be remembered for it.

Augusta National is quite simply a golfer's paradise - every player dreams of walking on the hallowed turf at some point in their career. The course is simply stunning, with many players lost in the beauty of the place on their first visit. The one sense you get from everyone you speak to here, whether players, media, spectators or patrons, is how lucky they all feel to be at the Masters. As a traditional members club, Augusta National has always maintained a sense of exclusivity and every person that takes the trip down Magnolia Lane can feel the heritage of the place.

For those of us working in the media, life at Augusta is made all the more challenging by rules surrounding use of phones on the site and lack of golf buggies, amongst others, but it only adds to the mystique of the Masters. Patrons and media alike respect that Augusta National want to preserve the history and traditions of the event; the green jacket, the caddies in white jumpsuits, the Par three contest, the list goes on.

Much of the buzz this week has centred on 14-year-old Chinese sensation Guan Tianlang, who will become the youngest person to compete in the Masters. As well as playing in the morning with Ben Crenshaw and an afternoon round with Tiger Woods on Monday, he played alongside the legendary Tom Watson on Tuesday, before partnering England's three-time champion Sir Nick Faldo in the par three tournament. Elsewhere, Bubba broke down in his press conference when talking about last year's triumph to show exactly what it means to win the green jacket and there was bad news for former Open champion, Darren Clarke, who was forced to withdraw from the event after suffering hamstring injury while playing tennis on holiday in the Bahamas.

The competitive action gets underway this evening with the par three contest and everyone is hopeful for better weather than last year when the competition was brought to an premature conclusion. The beloved par three event, held on Wednesday of tournament week and now televised around the world, is above all a family affair. Wives and girlfriends, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews-all happily serve as caddies, with former world number one tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki, on the bag for boyfriend Rory McIlroy this time around. Famously, no winner of the par three has ever gone on to triumph in the Masters the same year.

The par three contest will be live on Sky Sports 1HD at 7pm tonight followed by our official preview show. We will be exclusively live on Thursday and Friday and live again throughout the weekend in both HD and 3D and with a multitude of interactive options available via the red button. On Sky Sports News, James Haddock and myself will be providing hourly updates from the course and discussing all the latest news with special guests including Colin Montgomerie, Butch Harmon and Mark Roe. For those wanting to keep up with events on the go, a dedicated Masters 'Match Centre' is available through the Sky Sports for iPad App. Make sure you tune in to what promises to be an unmissable Masters.

Sky Sports coverage details:

Wednesday 10 April
Par 3 Contest/Preview Show
7.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD

Thursday 11 April
Day One Live (Selected Holes) - 3.45pm, Sky Sports 1HD*
Day One Live - 7.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD, 9.30pm, Sky 3D

Friday 12 April
Masters Breakfast - 9.00am, Sky Sports 1HD
Day Two Live (Selected Holes) - 4.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD*
Day Two Live - 7.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD, 9.30pm, Sky 3D

Saturday 13 April
Masters Breakfast - 9.00am, Sky Sports 1HD
Day Three Live (Selected Holes) - 4.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD*
Day Three Live - 7.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD, 9.30pm, Sky 3D

Sunday 14 April
Masters Breakfast - 9.00am, Sky Sports 1HD
Day Four Live (Selected Holes) - 5.00pm, Sky Sports 1HD*
Day Four Live - 6.00pm, Sky Sports 1 HD, 9.00pm, Sky 3D

*Live coverage available via the Red Button

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Getty Images Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images 19 hours ago

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