5 talking points ahead of delayed Masters
Tiger Woods will defend his title when the 84th Masters gets under way at Augusta National on Thursday.
Here, the PA news agency looks at five talking points ahead of the year’s
final major championship.
Will Bryson DeChambeau power his way to a first Masters title?
Little else has been on the minds of many observers since DeChambeau stormed to a six-shot victory in the US Open at Winged Foot in September, making a mockery of those who thought his focus on power over accuracy would be exposed by tight fairways and thick rough. None of those things exist at Augusta National and DeChambeau’s unashamed list of which clubs he was hitting into each hole during practice featured more wedges than a Trivial Pursuit game and nothing above a six iron. Perhaps only the contoured putting surfaces and the ban on detailed green-reading books stand in the way of Tiger Woods slipping a rather large green jacket on DeChambeau’s shoulders on Sunday.
Can Tiger Woods defy the odds once more?
In the words of three-time Masters champion Sir Nick Faldo, the chants of “Tiger, Tiger” around the 18th green and the sight of Woods embracing his children after ending his 11-year wait for a 15th major title last year will remain “the greatest scene in golf forever” and he could well be right. Woods was in good form last year and his victory did not come as a total surprise, but the 44-year-old’s performances since he returned from the coronavirus shutdown have been mediocre at best and it is tough to see him overcome all his rivals this time around, especially without the fear factor and atmosphere provided by spectators.
Will Fuzzy Zoeller’s feat finally be emulated?
Apart from the first two winners (Horton Smith in 1934 and Gene Sarazen – who did not play in the inaugural event – in 1935), Zoeller is the only player to have won the Masters on their tournament debut. However, with no spectators present this year and even veterans like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson having never experienced a Masters in November before, the chances of a rookie winner are perhaps higher than ever. The likes of US PGA winner Collin Morikawa and US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff are making their debuts in 2020 and it would be no great surprise to see them contending for the title.
Is it Rory’s turn?
Ever since he won the Open Championship in 2014, McIlroy has arrived at Augusta National knowing he needs a victory to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam. That knowledge has undoubtedly played a part in McIlroy’s failure to win a green jacket to date, despite a number of top-10 finishes and a place in the final pairing alongside eventual winner Patrick Reed in 2018. McIlroy happily acknowledged that the focus on DeChambeau has allowed him to come in somewhat under the radar and, with baby daughter Poppy to occupy his mind and his time off the course, 2020 could be his year.
Will the course play any differently than in April?
With an almost unlimited budget and seven months to prepare, anyone expecting Augusta National not to be in pristine condition has not been paying attention. However, McIlroy did say that chipping could be more difficult because all of the Bermuda grass has not died off yet and there is rain in the forecast for Thursday and Sunday which will make a long course play every inch of its 7,475 yards. One thing for certain is that the greens will be perfect and as fast as the Masters committee wants them to be thanks to the SubAir system underneath all 18 putting surfaces.
Japanese golfing hero Hideki Matsuyama’s top five PGA Tour victories
Following his victory on home soil in the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP we take a look at the 29-year-old’s finest PGA Tour moments.
Mallorca champion Jeff Winther nearly missed final round due to bathroom drama
Winther’s six-year-old daughter had to come to the rescue.
Jeff Winther claims maiden European Tour title with Mallorca victory
The 33-year-old Dane finished one shot clear of Sebastian Soderberg, Pep Angles and Jorge Campillo.
Hideki Matsuyama triumphs on home soil to take ZOZO Championship title
Matsuyama finished five shots clear of runner-up Brendan Steele.
Hideki Matsuyama one shot in front heading into final round of ZOZO Championship
The 29-year-old Japanese held a three-shot advantage at one stage down the back nine.
Matt Wallace remains in contention at ZOZO Championship after strong finish
Wallace was two over par for his first 15 holes at Narashino Country Club but birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th to add a 69 to his opening 65.
Matt Wallace two shots off the lead after first round of the ZOZO Championship
Home favourite Hiroshi Iwata led the way on seven under.
Collin Morikawa looking forward to having fans back in Japan
The American is racking up the miles as he contends at the start of the PGA Tour season and the end of the European Tour campaign.
Rory McIlroy’s 20 PGA Tour wins: From the breakthrough in 2010 to THE CJ CUP last week
The Northern Irishman was supreme at the weekend, holding off the challenge of Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa in Las Vegas.
Billy Horschel sets out to double prize money at event aimed at boosting diversity
The 34-year-old American hosted the inaugural Billy Horschel APGA Tour Invitational at Sawgrass in July.