Masters 2020: Tiger Woods to defend title in a ‘Masters like no other’

He glanced up to the leaderboard and noticed that it was true, Jordan Spieth’s meltdown on the 12th gap meant that a lifelong dream was now inside Willett’s grasp. Later that night, Spieth was serving to Willett into the coveted inexperienced jacket.

Fans play a huge function in each main sports activities occasion, however at Augusta, they can assist outline the entire expertise.

When Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman in the 1987 playoff, the roar was so deafening that it made his child son cry.

When Tiger Woods was en route to a rare fifth title in 2019, an excitable surge prompted a safety guard to rush to Woods’ assist. He slipped and virtually worn out the world’s most well-known golfer.

When the 2020 Masters Tournament tees off in Augusta, it should all really feel very totally different; the drama will play out on one of many world’s most hallowed sports activities grounds and the one factor you may hear would be the whisper of the breeze in the timber.

A general view of the 10th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.

The coronavirus pandemic implies that the 84th Masters will probably be performed with out the adoring patrons lining the fairways.

It’s arduous to imagine that when Woods returns to Augusta this month, he’s the defending champion. So a lot has occurred in the world since he slipped on his fifth inexperienced jacket in April 2019.

But the 15-time main winner, who will need to have thought he’d seen all of it, will get to expertise one thing new; the primary main golf match of the yr is now the final — a Masters in November.

When Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts carved out their little slice of heaven in northeast Georgia, they created the “Augusta National Invitational.” That was in 1934 and 5 years later it turned generally known as “The Masters.”

They rapidly realized that in order to develop a new and prestigious golf match, they would wish the media to expertise its majesty and unfold the phrase — therefore the April slot in the calendar.

In an period lengthy earlier than the web and jet-set journey, the match organizers figured that the easiest way to appeal to the nation’s prime sports activities writers could be to snag them as they had been travelling again from baseball’s spring coaching camps in Florida in the direction of their workplaces in New York.

Only twice, thus far, has the match been performed in a month exterior of April.

A distinct look

A November occasion, with or with out patrons, will inevitably look totally different. One would assume that the long-lasting Amen Corner, with its putting banks of azaleas in full bloom, will appear a little extra muted in November.

It would maybe be too hopeful to anticipate that even the Encore number of the shrub may have a lot shade left in the march in the direction of winter. Having mentioned that, if there’s anyplace on earth that may get the very best out of its horticulture, it’s the former nursery on Washington Road.

The pace and ease with which crops and timber appear to develop on the property makes one surprise if their provider is similar man that bought Jack his beanstalk beans.

It could be, although, that the backdrop could possibly be much more spectacular with a November match. Georgia’s autumnal colours will be majestic, many leaves are nonetheless on the timber and so the course could possibly be bathed in each heat hue from sienna to merlot.

Patrons cheer as Tiger Woods celebrates his birdie on the 16th green during the final round of the Masters in 2019.

Anyone who watches The Masters for the landscaping ought to nonetheless have a lot to excite them. There may nonetheless be some shade on the Camellia on the 10th gap and the excessive definition cameras may simply give you the chance to pick the Nandina’s pink berries on 17.

For the gamers, patrons and tv viewers at dwelling, there may be a sturdy sense of familiarity at The Masters.

It’s the one males’s golf main that’s performed on the identical course yearly — even ‘the house of golf’ St Andrews solely will get to host The Open twice a decade — and because the roars sweep by way of Augusta’s grounds on a Sunday afternoon, they develop into straightforward to establish.

You can inform the place the motion is and infrequently you possibly can sense the distinction between cheers for a birdie and an eagle; even a Woods roar appears to have its personal sound.

A view of the locked gates at the entrance of Magnolia Lane at Augusta National.

Making changes

There will not be something like that in 2020 and on a course famed for its Spartan use of leaderboards, it is going to be fascinating to see how the gamers navigate the emotional dynamic of one of many hardest assessments in golf.

There definitely will probably be much less expectations of them. For solely the second time since its debut in 1960, there will probably be no par three competitors on Wednesday — it was cancelled due to inclement climate in 2017.

And through the apply rounds on 16, will the gamers skip their balls throughout the water on onto the inexperienced? Without the patrons egging them on, what could be the purpose?

A general view of the leaderboard during a practice round prior to the Masters.

With 96 gamers making the drive up Magnolia Lane, this would be the largest discipline in a whereas at Augusta, however the quirk of the schedule implies that arguably one of many world’s hottest gamers is not going to be there.

Daniel Berger has loved a handful of top-five finishes since February, propelling the American to 13th in the world rankings.

That would usually qualify anyone for an invite to Augusta, however as a result of this match is being performed as it will have been in April, when Berger wasn’t even in the highest 100 when the rankings had been revealed for the final time earlier than the shutdown in the center of March, he has been unable to qualify.

He’ll be disregarded in the chilly, but when it is any comfort, he’ll solely have to wait 5 months till the following Masters in April 2021.

And the gamers who do tee it up in November won’t be as chilly as you’d assume.

Forecasters predict the temperatures in Augusta to be 10 and even 20 levels farenheit above common for November, with the mercury presumably even nudging 80 levels. Anyone on the grounds who can shut their eyes and block their ears may a minimum of really feel as if the Masters in April.

Berger plays a shot from the sixth tee during the second round of the 120th U.S. Open Championship.

That’s not to say, nevertheless, that it is going to be balmy always of the day and the discount in sunlight hours implies that the course may have to be extra crowded; for the primary two rounds, teams of three gamers will tee off at each the primary and 10th holes.

They will all miss the fervour and the vitality of the patrons, however for the fortunate few with entry to the course — the members at Augusta National and chosen media — the 2020 Masters match will probably be an unique expertise, the world’s greatest golfers, taking part in one of the revered programs on the planet, placing on what is going to really feel as if it is a non-public present.

That is one thing that cash may by no means purchase.

The Masters is named “a tradition like no other” and no matter occurs this yr will definitely be a Masters like no different.

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