Masters in the autumn will add to golf’s folklore

If the Masters is a tradition unlike any other, a unique autumn showcase of golf’s most eagerly anticipated annual gathering will likely linger in the memory long after the Green Jacket donned by Tiger Woods last year is draped over the winner.
Played in late March or early April since its inception in 1934, the Masters was postponed this year until Nov 12-15 after American sport shut down in March amid a widespread novel coronavirus outbreak.
With no spectators on site for the first time, an eerie silence is expected with just a faint breeze whispering through the pines in place of the gallery roars that customarily reverberate across the entire course.
Usually there are eagle roars, hole-in-one roars, Tiger roars, a proverbial bush telegraph, all slightly different to the attuned ears of veteran fans and players alike.
“As a player, (I) always knew where the roars were coming from, and you could sort of sense who they were for,” said Curtis Strange, twice US Open champion.
Also likely gone will be the pink azaleas, usually bursting with colour in the bright spring sunshine.
Similarly missing in the absence of fans will be exorbitant prices for one-star motels and the daily traffic jams on the Washington Road that runs adjacent to the course’s front gate.
Due to limited daylight hours, a two-tee start will be used to get the 94-man field completed in timely fashion before the sun dips below the leafy horizon shortly after 5 p.m.
But for all the unique aspects of this year’s Masters, it will be pretty much business as usual for the players once the first ball is struck.
Inside the ropes, questions abound.
Can Bryson DeChambeau continue the sizzling form he used to muscle his way to a six-stroke US Open victory in September, and will he revolutionise the way Augusta is played by routinely pounding his drives more than 320 yards?
Other pertinent questions include whether Rory McIlroy can finally add a Green Jacket to his wardrobe and complete the career Grand Slam of all four majors?
And can Woods somehow find the old magic that he conjured up 19 long months ago to claim his 16th major title?
Woods has not recorded a top-30 finish since January and recent form gives little reason for optimism, though he will be discounted at one’s peril.
His old friend and former professional Notah Begay observed Woods at the recent ZOZO Championship and was not exactly impressed. He reckons there are definite signs of rust in Woods’ game, not to mention inconsistency.
Several other analysts have also questioned Woods’ form but in the back of their minds they know they could well end up eating their words. You simply can’t write off  Tiger Woods, especially at the Masters, After all, it’s a tournament he has won five times!

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