Masters 2020: One day to go, but everyone is talking about one player
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In just under 24 hours from the time of this story posting, the 2020 Masters will begin in earnest, bringing just a shade of normalcy to an abnormal world.
But before we hit the course, Tuesday was Talking Time, and boy, did many of the golfers have plenty to say about the course, the lack of patrons, and one player in particular.
Let’s talk about Tuesday.
Bryson DeChambeau is the flavor of the tournament
We talked --at length -- about the 27-year-old California native on Monday after all the golfers were done holding their remarks.
It’s apparent from golf media and the golfers themselves that DeChambeau is already one of the men to watch -- or place a friendly wager on -- when it comes to who will be adorned with a green jacket at the end of Sunday’s round.
DeChambeau’s strategy has been to hit the gym in the past year and really work on fundamentals when it comes to driving. The strategy has seemed to pay off.
According to the PGA Tour and Yahoo! Sports, DeChambeau’s average driving distance over the past eight rounds of golf is 344.4 yards. In 2019, DeChambeau was driving 322.1 on average in 62 rounds.
As we mentioned Tuesday, DeChambeau has already drawn up comparisons to Tiger Woods' Masters performance in 1997 -- something the five-time green jacket winner was asked about.
“[Bryson’s] put in the time. He’s put in the work. What he’s done in the gym has been incredible and what he’s done on the range and what he’s done with his entire team to be able to optimize that one club and transform his game and the ability to hit the ball as far as he has and in as short a span as he has, it’s never been done before,” Woods said.
Clearly, he’ll be someone to watch as the tournament begins.
No patrons makes for an interesting course, some golfers say
The feel of the Augusta National Golf Club is already different without patrons, many golfers are already noting.
“Yeah, the first thing that stands out is just no ropes,” Masters champion Bubba Watson said. “Normally there’s ropes and different things, and obviously people shape the hole a little bit differently, and not having those people here, not having the ropes, it looks like we’re here. I’ve been lucky enough to come in here weeks before the tournament usually and practice without the ropes and play with a member and stuff. But that’s kind of the feel right now.”
And yes, golfers are using the word “different” plenty to describe the atmosphere of the course.
“Oh, so different,” Tony Finau said. “But I mean, the golf course is still amazing. But it just looks so different. I think the last time I played a competitive round here was in the final group with Tiger in ’19. The difference between that and being out here in a practice round and getting ready is like night and day when it comes to how many people are around, just in general the energy and stuff. So it’s going to be quite different. My two competitive rounds back to back are going to be quite different.”
Hideki Matsuyama called it a “shame” that there were no patrons, but also noted the way the course is playing is different, too.
“We’ve been playing in front of no galleries all year, so I’m a little bit used to it,” Matsuyama said. “I guess the big difference, though, will be the difference in the grass. The overseed hasn’t come in yet, and that’ll be something that all of us are going to have to battle, I think, this week.”
Jon Rahm’s hole in one was social media gold
Most of the golfers in Augusta are getting in a few practice rounds to get a feel for the course before Thursday. But one golfer, already considered one of the favorites if you ask the oddsmakers, is clearly enjoying himself at Augusta.
Jon Rahm put a little magic on his ball on the 16th.
Many golfers use the 16th hole as a chance to have a little fun and skip the ball across the water hazard. But what Rahm accomplished on 16 -- on his birthday, too -- is nothing short of spectacular.
“Yeah, pretty nice birthday present,” Rahm said. “Can’t complain. Hit my normal tee shot to two feet and then skipped it and made it, which is the craziest thing, the second hole in one of the week.”
Crazy indeed, Rahm.
Chairman Fred Ridley will speak Wednesday
As is customary, Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley will speak on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The chairman already spoke on Monday to announce a pair of honors for Lee Elder.
We’ll have more on his comments later today.
Enjoy the calm before the storm, friends. We’re in for a fun tournament.
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