Bubba Watson cried when he won his Green Jacket last year. He cried again - reminiscing in his champion's press conference. In case you haven't been paying attention, Bubba is an emotional fellow. He cries a lot. The tears flowed telling a story about his baby son, Caleb. "Out of respect and honour for Augusta National, I didn't do any of my funny antics [with the Green Jacket] that I normally would," Watson said. "Only thing I did was wrap Caleb up in it." Ah bless. Cue waterworks.
Watson will set off in defence of his title in the company of Ian Poulter and the US Amateur champion, 22-year-old Steven Fox from Tennessee. The last time Watson and Poulter teed it up under the white-hot glare of the sporting world was at the Ryder Cup last September. It was there on the outskirts of Chicago that they created history by inviting the crowd packed around the first tee at Medinah Country Club to whoop and to holler and to ignore the "Quiet Please" signs. It was a historic, silence-busting, tradition-snubbing, gloriously memorable moment. It will not be repeated at Augusta National Golf Club. This is Georgia, not Chicago. They prefer their golf and their lives to be a little quieter and a little slower-paced here. There will be cheers and applause but they will be polite and courteous. Watson and Poulter would not even dare entertain the idea of asking for a Ryder Cup encore from the patrons – fans here are for cooling hot faces. Especially as on this hallowed turf running, let alone whooping and hollering during backswings, is strictly forbidden.
Global golfing stars though Watson and Poulter undoubtedly are, at Augusta they and all the other competitors know their place. Heck, even Rory McIlroy admitted to being nervous to take divots off Augusta's perfect new carpet fairways when he first played here. Golf is serious at Augusta; clowning around is not appreciated.
McIlroy will also enjoy a Ryder Cup reunion. He will spend the first two rounds with Keegan Bradley, whom he still beat in the singles on the Sunday despite his infamous arrival with a police escort and almost missing his tee time. The tournament committee clearly had some devilment at play in pairing up partners. Sweden's Freddie Jacobson makes up their threeball.
Tiger Woods and Luke Donald renew Ryder Cup hostilities, too. Scott Piercy from Las Vegas will assume the invisible third man role in their stellar group. Lee Westwood will get to watch Jim Furyk and Mike Weir, the US Open and Masters champions from 2003, and wonder how the heck he still hasn't won a major. The world No 3, Justin Rose, will accompany the No 5, Brandt Snedeker from Nashville, who is much fancied here to be fitted for a Green Jacket. Japan's former teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa, still only 21, completes their group.
The New Kid on the Tee Block, 14 year-old Guan Tianlang, will make history as the youngest ever player in the Masters accompanied by Matteo Manassero (now all of 19 years-old), whose record he breaks. They will be chaperoned by "Gentle Ben" Crenshaw, the 1984 and 1995 champion. How's that for an Augusta tutorial?
Augusta: Selected tee times
For opening two days (all times BST; US unless stated):
2.06pm/5.13pm M Weir (Can), L Westwood (Eng), J Furyk
2.17pm/5.24pm B Snedeker, R Ishikawa (Japan), J Rose (Eng)
2.50pm/5.57pm Z Johnson, K J Choi (Kor), G McDowell (NIrl)
3.34pm/6.30pm B Watson, I Poulter (Eng), S Fox
3.45pm/6.41pm T Woods, L Donald (Eng), S Piercy
3.56pm/6.52pm J Day (Aus), R Fowler, P Harrington (Irl)
4.29pm/1.22pm M O'Meara, M Laird (Scot), J Donaldson (Wal)
5.57pm/2.39pm A Cabrera (Arg), S Garcia (Sp), A Scott (Aus)
6.19pm/3.12pm H Mahan, H Fujita (Japan), F Molinari (It)
6.30pm/3.23pm P Mickelson, L Oosthuizen (SA), M Kaymer (Ger)
6.41pm/3.34pm R McIlroy (NI), K Bradley, F Jacobson (Swe)Reuse content