The dispute for ‘Green Jacket’ gets very interesting in the final stretch of the Augusta Masters
The Masters in November promised to be different and that was long before a ball was in the air.
No ropes, no stands, no fans, and no roars. No azaleas, although there are camellias. Instead of the first cut, there is a complicated rough. And with two simultaneous outputs.
“I don’t think any of the players are bothered,” said Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion who plays the tournament for the 28th time in his career, but none like this one.
“We are grateful to have an opportunity to play the Masters and fight for the ‘Green Jacket.’ We appreciate the effort they make. It is five or 10 times more difficult to have a tournament like this this year than in the past, and the club has worked very hard on the event every day. We are grateful”.
One thing Mickelson didn’t say was: the tournament plays out from a certain point of view.
Most of the time, the Masters is compelling. Amateurs and veterans enter Georgia’s famous course and feel the history rush through their veins. Some freeze in fear, a natural reaction. Others are inspired and show it in their game. The drama is always present.
This weekend it seems that it will be no different. Another factor is that the circumstances are unusual.
The 84th edition of the Masters is played for the first time in a month other than March or April. The field was closed with 96 players in March, along with the quarantine, and only two players withdrew due to a positive for Covid-19, including 2017 champion Sergio Garcia.
And yet here we are with world number one Dustin Johnson tied for the lead along with world rankings two and three Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, as well as a pair of talented and renewed elements like Abraham Ancer and Cameron. Smith.
Patrick Cantley, who won the ZOZO Championship three weeks ago and was a contender at last year’s Masters, is just one blow behind. Also 2016 champion Danny Willett, who will make the cut since his win that year.
Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen are in contention.
Also Mickelson, who is four strokes behind, as well as Brooks Koepka, a four-time Majors winner. Even defending champion Tiger Woods is not out of the fray, as he is four strokes behind the leaders.
There are 18 players within three strokes of the lead and 13 of them are among the top 30 best in the world.
“I’m not worried about them being there,” said Rahm, who won the Memorial Tournament and the BMW Championship this year. “I have seen their names all day, I think it is the factor that it is the last event of the year that many of us are going to play and I think that matters a lot. We all want to finish this year with style and strong, I think that’s it ”.
“It is a course where you have to be good from the tee. You need to be good with irons. Most of your game should be very good, actually very good, which will be a factor for many players. There is no surprise why the best players have a chance this tournament. “
The setting, the background, may be different, but the golf is still good, quite good. “It’s been wonderful and I know it’s not the same as April, but it’s amazing and I love being here,” said Ancer, who plays his first Masters. “It is one of my favorite places in the world.”
You are not alone in what you think. Ancer may not get the full experience the Masters offers, but it’s still special. Augusta National usually takes time to get used to, and Ancer will already encounter a difficulty.
But for now, take the advantage and perhaps the benefits of having us distracted from noise or screaming audiences.
“I think I think it took me a bit to get over the fear of Augusta National,” said Thomas, who has improved little since his previous four appearances, tying at Agar 12 last year. “He is going to play differently every year and with different conditions. When he’s firm and fast, you have to play differently in weeks like this. “
“You can make as many birdies as you want if you have control of your ball. If you hit well with the driver, you have many opportunities to fall on the greens with the irons. The greens are very good and if you land in the right places, you can do it from wherever you want ”.
Bernhard Langer, who played his first Major in 1976, became the oldest player to make the cut, making it at age 63. The two-time champion, the same man who put the ‘Green Jacket’ on Jack Nicklaus in 1986 as a defending champion, is looking to do well against players who were not yet born when he won his two titles at Augusta National.
“I like this field,” Langer said. “I think I know how to play it, even with the long sticks I use. But it is not easy. It is a place for those who hit long, it has always been like that. I mean, why did Jack win six times and Tiger five? Because they were the furthest hitters in their time. I think that has always done this place ”.
And the stars too. There are many to be seen, as an abnormal Masters produces some normality and develops towards the weekend.