Previewing the 2020 Masters in Augusta

The 2020 Masters will be played in unparalleled and unique fashion this year. The tournament, typically a staple of the early springtime, is now being played in November without fans due to COVID-19. 

The Masters is golf’s finest event; “a tradition unlike any other,” as longtime CBS Masters announcer Jim Nantz coined it. The tournament is full of rich history and tradition, whether it’s the pink azaleas, the pimento cheese sandwiches, the ride down Magnolia lane, the melancholic Masters music or the storied green jacket. The Masters will certainly be different in 2020, but the tournament will be exciting as ever.

A big storyline in this year’s Masters will be how Augusta National is shaping up both in the fall and without fans. Temperatures for the tournament are predicted to be from around 60-80 degrees, which is around the average temperature in April as well, so there will not be much of a change there. There is rain predicted in the forecast for all four days, which could possibly play a role in how the golf course is played. Tiger Woods has said that playing in November is similar to the spring, but it is colder and the ball doesn’t go as far. Georgia natives Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner predicted the course would play longer in the cool and wet weather. 

The tournament will also be played without fans this year due to COVID-19. This will make the Masters feel vastly different for the players. Perhaps it will add to the serenity and peacefulness of Augusta National, but it could also hurt some of the players. Players love feeding off of the fans’ energy. There is always at least one distinguishable, memorable moment in each year’s tournament when the Augusta crowd erupts. Whether it was the incredibly emotional, goose-bump producing moment when Woods won the Masters in 2019, in what was one of the best comebacks in the history of sports, or Bubba Watson’s incredible snap hook from the pine straw to lead him to his first Masters victory, the fans are a massive presence and are a part of the Masters experience. This year, there will be no “mashed potatoes!” or “get in the hole!” screams from the gallery, and that will certainly alter the 2020 Masters experience.

Another storyline coming into the 2020 Masters is 2019 defending champion Tiger Woods. Woods, arguably the greatest to ever play the sport, completed an incredible personal comeback by winning the Masters in 2019, his fifth green jacket and first since 2005. It will be hard to top the 2019’s Masters, a magical feel-good story, but you can certainly never count Tiger out of the Masters, and he’ll be hungry for another one this week.

The odds on favorite and story of 2020 in the golf world is none other than Bryson Dechambeau. ‘Beefy Bryson’, as I like to call him, has had a historic 2020 season. Post-quarantine, Bryson put on about 20 pounds thanks to steak, potatoes and protein shakes. He won the Rocket Mortgage back in July and won his first major at the US Open at Winged Foot in September. He’s chasing back to back majors this upcoming week. Bryson won the low amateur at Augusta back in 2016 and has played in the tournament two times in his young career. Apparently, he carried the ball 400 yards a few weeks ago, and he had a jaw-dropping practice round at Augusta according to Bryson will no doubt be making headlines this week out at Augusta. 

Other names to watch this week are Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, who both had phenomenal endings to their PGA season. Lower on the radar are Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele who are both due for a major. Will Rory Mcilroy finally win another major? He hasn’t won one since 2014. And how about Brooks Koepka, who has somewhat faded in the last year? He’s another guy to watch this week.

The Masters is one of my favorite sporting events. It’s going to be different in 2020 — but what isn’t? It’s still the Masters, a tradition unlike any other, and you can bet people will be glued to it from dawn to dusk, Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon.