The first round of the 84th US Masters Tournament is happening now in Augusta, Georgia. It could be said that 2020 will be the most anticipated Masters in history … well it’s the most anticipated for me!
This will be the first US Masters that I’m going to miss. I have been seeing it in person since 1999 – that’s 21 years straight! And to be honest, sharing the excitement with the Teed Up guests who were supposed to be joining me on tour, is what I’m going to miss the most.
This year’s tournament is postponed from its usual April dates due to the impact of coronavirus. Instead of being held in spring, it is now going to be held in August, the beginning of autumn.
Many people are talking about missing the colour of the famous Azaleas and other flowers that are usually in bloom during Masters Week and how the course will instead be coloured in the reds and oranges traditionally associated with “Fall”.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what the course is like. Augusta should be covered in Bermuda/Couch grass this time of year but I have heard that Augusta have tried to recreate the exact same look and condition as April. Which would not surprise me and would be a fantastic feat to pull off! I think the course will play shorter because, following summer, the ground should be firmer.
Last week, Fred Ripley, the Chairman of Augusta National, announced that The Par 3 Contest, traditionally played on the Wednesday of Masters Week, has been cancelled.
In 2020 there will also be no spectators (or Patrons as they are known) allowed at Augusta National to watch the tournament. I think not having crowds will help first-time players or players with fewer starts at the Masters, perform better than others. I believe that this has to hurt Tiger and Phil as both really love the crowds.
There have also been a number of golfers in the Masters field who have tested positive for Covid-19 including Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau. Will having been infected with coronavirus impact their performance? We are yet to see an announcement as to whether Adam Scott will recover in time from his diagnosis 2 weeks ago to take his place in the field (under the USA’s CDC guidelines that the PGA Tour has adopted, after 10 days of self-isolation, Scott will not have to be tested again for three months).
Based on all of that, I am tipping Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson & local-boy Kevin Kisner to perform really well and have a chance of winning the Green Jacket. Patrick Reed also putts well on Augusta’s greens but, personally, I just can’t tip him at all!
Here in Australia, along with the rest of the global television audience, we will benefit from the absence of the crowd as Augusta National is working with the tv broadcasters to showcase distinctive angles and shots from around the course and provide us with new and enhanced views of the Tournament.
I can’t wait to watch it on TV, but with a smaller field (only 96 players), November’s shorter daylight hours, and players scheduled to start off the 1st and 10th tees in two waves for the first two rounds. Just be aware that the tee times might be starting earlier so check your guides so you don’t miss out on the action.
Enjoy this special year!