It’s a tradition unlike any other. But you can call it The Masters. The event’s 84th version will be played at the Augusta National Golf Club, which has hosted the tournament each …
Chris Carlson/Associated Press
The galleries are, well not.
Let’s face it, it’s the Masters in name only. Because nothing about this edition is typical.
The bold colors of spring have yielded to the subtle hues of autumn, and the thousands of spectators standing among them and giving the tournament its unmistakable soundtrack won’t be there.
The event was initially shut down amid the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic in April and rescheduled for November, and the club subsequently made the call that while play would go on, the risk of allowing fans would be too great considering the infection risks involved.
Another virus-prompted accommodation? Play will begin Thursday and Friday in two waves at the first and 10th holes, meaning half the field each day will begin with back-nine staples like Amen Corner, etc.
Its going to be eerie. Its going to be different, said Rory McIlroy, via The Associated Press. But at least were playing for a green jacket.
November weather is unpredictable.
Picking up a golf tournament in April and dropping it in November means big changes anywhere.
And Augusta, Georgia is no different, given an average daily high temperature that’s 10 degrees cooler (77 to 67), not to mention a nighttime low that leans eight degrees (55 to 47) closer to shivering conditions.
But who knows? Maybe this week won’t be so drastic after all.
An early-week check of Augusta’s weekend forecast reveals four straight days of highs from 74 to 79, while the lows are a downright comfortable 61 to 69.
What may be uncomfortable, however, is rain, which in the forecast via thunderstorms on Thursday and might hamper older players (see: Woods, Tiger) if rounds are interrupted or pushed back.
Rory McIlroy can finish a career slam.
For five years, Rory McIlroy has arrived to Augusta with a chance to complete a career grand slam that’d join him with the likes of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
He’s made the top 10 in four of those five appearances, but hasn’t gotten closer than fourth place (in 2015) and was farther off the pace in 2019 (tied for 21st) than any year since 2013 (tie for 25th).
Given this year’s circumstances, though, his quest isn’t quite front-page news.
And maybe that’s a good thing.
“I’ve done a lot of great things in golf,” he told BBC Sport (h/t edition.cnn.com), “so it’s just a matter of doing it on the right weeks.”