10 things to know for the Masters

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8. RETURN OF THE BIG EASY

Ernie Els felt his heart get ripped out in 2004 when he was on the putting green hopeful of a playoff until he heard the ground-shaking roar of Phil Mickelson making a birdie on the 18th to win. Worse yet was the Big Easy failing to qualify last year, missing the Masters for the first time in 18 years. He returns as the British Open champion, giving the South African at least five more tries at the major he wants so desperately to win.

9. THE THREE AMIGOS

Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were the original “Big Three, and they combined to win every Masters from 1960 through 1966. They get together once a year at Augusta National, where they officially start the tournament by hitting a ceremonial shot off the first tee. They last played a full round at the Masters in 2001. Nicklaus shot 75, and Palmer and Player each had 76.

10. WITHER THE AZALEAS?

So much for that myth that Augusta National puts ice on the azaleas bushes to make sure they bloom during tournament week. Due to an early spring in the South last year, the azaleas, camellias and dogwoods bloomed before the opening tee shot. The few flowers remaining were wilting fast. The Masters had gone green. The course was beautiful. But it was green.

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