In 33 years of commentating on the Masters on US TV, Jim Nantz believes this year's tournament has the potential to be one of the greatest ever with so many players in hot form. By Lewis Blain.
Jim Nantz: “Most Anticipated Masters Ever”
Jim Nantz has been covering golf in America for more than three decades, a voice synonymous with the game.
He says this year the tournament is shaping up to be unlike anything experienced before, with so many of the sport’s greats coming back into form as well as the young talent that is now on offer.
“Tiger Woods has returned and far surpassed anyone’s loft expectations,” Nantz expressed in a conference call according to Golf Digest.
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“It is exciting for the game, indisputable.
“At the same time, almost all of the best players in the world have seen their games rise to a healthy level.
“I’ve been doing this 33 years, it’s always highly anticipated, but this might be the most anticipated Masters any of us has seen in our lifetime.”
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Tiger Woods has thrown himself back into the list of clear candidates to win with his recent form since his comeback in January this year.
Three successive weeks has seen a cut made, and even better three top-15 finishes – 12th, T2nd and T5th.
The 42-year-old is a four-time green jacket winner but is without one since 2005, Nantz believes that adding a fifth could be one of the all time greatest moments in the sport.
“I think there’s a different thing between challenging and winning. But if he wins, you’re going to be talking about one of the epic moments in the history of the sport. No matter how he gets there.
“To have him back in the Butler Cabin would be one of the all-time scripts,” added the experienced broadcaster.
“This is an event that has an amazing ability to produce these Hollywood stories. You walk away most years wondering, ‘How did this happen?'”
The PGA Tour has suffered from a number of fan incidents over the last month or so; Sergio at the WGC, Rory at the Arnold Palmer and Justin Thomas at the Genesis.
Nantz believes that no such thing will occur at Augusta National.
“I’ve never walked inside the ropes with a club in my hand.
“But it is very real when you have Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas speaking out about it.
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“I’m not going to pass judgement on how much it is affected them, they are at the top if the game.
“It is a fine balance – how can we grow the game?” questioned Nantz.
“It’s a conversation in every sport, how do you tap into the Millennials? Golf is no different.
“Through The First Tee and other programmes, it’s doing that. We want the game to be attractive to a new audience, but you have to be careful because there are certain traditions this game upholds.
“Silence over the swing, that has always been there. Those that don’t play golf do not understand that. They see it on other arenas, they can shout during a free throw and affect the game.”
While there are question marks over this issue, one thing is certain and that is that the 58-year-old commentator has ambitions of reaching a 50th Masters.
Nantz’s first Masters came in 1986 and he has been a frequent figure around Augusta ever since.
“I still feel appreciation for going there,” explained Nantz.
“Sure, I had a dream of doing 50 [years].
“That sounds like its miles and years away.
“Just to lend a voice to this production, it has been fantastic.”
The Masters begins on Thursday 5th April – here are the TV times.
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