USA Networks exclusive cable coverage of The Masters begins Thursday

USA Network, in its 26th consecutive year of exclusive cable coverage of the Masters, will offer live coverage from Augusta National Thursday and Friday from 4-7 p.m. ET/1-4 p.m. PT, as Tiger Woods seeks his fifth Masters title (1997, 2001-02, 2005).

Woods, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first Masters victory as a 21-year-old, will be challenged by Phil Mickelson, the defending and 2004 champion, along with former champions Fred Couples (1992), Vijay Singh (2000) and Jose Maria Olazabal (1994, 1999). In all, 28 Masters champions have been invited to Augusta this year. Other top players in the field include Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk.

A total of 107 invitations were extended, with 97 players expected to compete. The invitation list includes 56 U.S. and 51 international players, five amateurs and 18 first-time participants.

Bill Macatee will host USA Network’s live coverage from the Butler Cabin on Thursday and Friday. Joining Macatee on USA Network’s Thursday and Friday coverage will be Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo in the 18th tower, along with David Feherty, Ian Baker-Finch, Peter Oosterhuis, Bobby Clampett, Verne Lundquist and Peter Kostis.

Universal HD will simulcast USA’s coverage in high definition. USA Network will re-air its Thursday and Friday coverage from 8-11 p.m. ET/PT both days and USA will offer live “look-ins” and updates at Noon and 2 p.m. ET.