AUGUSTA, Georgia – Someone will don one of the green jackets at the Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday as the champion of a Masters tournament seven years ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. months has been delayed.
Dustin Johnson will go into the final round at 16 under par, giving him an impressive four shots lead. But there's a lot tighter competition just below him on the scoreboard. Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith, all at 12 under par, are tied for second place. Dylan Frittelli is behind them with a shot, just as Justin Thomas Frittelli is behind by the same margin.
Augusta National officials expect the tournament to be decided by mid-afternoon, much earlier than usual due to scheduled N.F.L. games that follow the TV broadcast on CBS.
Rory McIlroy makes his run.
Watch out for Rory McIlroy, who was 10 after the first round with five bogey 75. McIlroy has had only one bogey since then, on the 13th hole in his third round, and is six of the lead. He's trying to rival Craig Stadler, who won the 1983 Masters after opening with a 75.
McIlroy birded the 8th hole for the fourth round in a row to bring him down to 11 and in a tied for fourth position behind leader. Dustin Johnson, sitting 16-down at number 7.
DeChambeau and Langer are Masters' strange couple.
One of Sunday's most intriguing groups has nothing to do with who could win or lose the masters. But Group 4 includes Bryson DeChambueau, the long-riding champion of the United States Open, and Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters winner who became the oldest man to make the cut at Augusta National this year. So to watch a few holes with them is to see how the game changes, especially as DeChambeau leads the field in average driving distance while Langer is dead last.
At about 262 yards, Langer is one of only two players in the 60-man field with an average drive of less than 271. Only 11 players have an average drive of over 300 yards, with DeChambeau usually log in around 326. His closest competitor on that line is Dylan Frittelli, whose average is about 319. yards.
Part of the gap between Langer, 63, and DeChambeau, 27, is a mathematical question of old age. But it is also a matter of style.
"I really feel older when I play with these young guys and I see how far they hit it and how short I hit it," Langer said last. week. & # 39; I feel older, not younger. I like this golf course. I think I know how to get around it, even though I hit really long clubs. But it is certainly not easy.
Augusta National, Langer noted, had long welcomed hitters like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. (So far this tournament, Woods' drives are at about 284 meters.)
Of course, DeChambeau wanted to overpower Augusta National and came in as a favorite in the run-up to Thursday's opening round. It didn't quite work out for him – he was 12 shots off the lead late Sunday morning – and he may have been partially thwarted by the damp course.
"Wet soil and water has always been my nemesis for some reason it just doesn't get out, while some people don't have a problem with it," he said Saturday. "They can hit it and have it. no problems. "
But he still leads Langer with three strokes.
Im and Smith cut Johnson's lead.
After Dustin Johnson missed a par putt from 3 yards on the fourth par-3, he showed as much emotion as he did all week. He knew how important that par-save was to maintain his momentum; it would have been difficult for Johnson to avoid the near scoreboard letting go see two players in the group ahead of him, Sungjae Im, a Masters rookie, and Cameron Smith, 2-under for their rounds, to get down to two of his lead.
One thing that won't happen in 2020 has changed: the Masters wallet.
Augusta National will raise $ 11.5 million hand out prize money to professionals participating in the tournament, the same amount as last year. The winner will earn nearly $ 2.1 million (along with a green jacket, lifetime tournament entry, and an annual dinner invitation), while the runner-up will receive more than $ 1.2 million. Even the 50th place player in the tournament will receive a nice payout of $ 28,980.
The Masters purse is one of the largest in golf, although the United States Open awarded $ 12.5 million in prize money, including $ 2.25 million to the winner, after the tournament in September.
Cameron Champ starts hot.
Masters rookie Cameron Champ birdied his first three holes to jump the first page of the scoreboard, but returned those shots three times on the fourth. At the BMW Championship in August, Champ, who is biracial, wore a black golf shoe and a white one to protest police brutality against black people following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The New York Times spoke to him last month about racial injustice and how he views the Masters, with their roots in the Old South.
While preparing for his Masters debut last month, Champ saw no reason to call Augusta National for good for a segregationist history similar to that of his paternal grandfather, who did caddy at courses in Houston where he was not allowed to play.
"When you grow up, you don't really learn that stuff until you are older," Champ said in an interview last month.
"Obviously it's a super historical tournament and something that clearly still means a lot to me," he added. "I don't think it should be avoided. I think it just has to do with time. Now we are in different times, things have changed."
Stayed in South Korea as a boy Sungjae Im up all night in early April. It was the only way he could see the Masters as they unfold.
Now it's South Korea that stays up ahead of Im, who started four strokes behind Dustin Johnson on Sunday at this year's Masters and in a three-way tie for runner-up.
"I know a lot of people stay up late at home and don't sleep while they watch the Masters, while they watch me," I said Saturday through an interpreter. "I want to stay calm again and make sure I finish strong so that I can make them happy."
History suggests it won't be easy. Not a single player who joined for the first time. played the Masters, has won the tournament since 1979, when Fuzzy Zoeller earned his green coat. But Im, who first played at Augusta National on Monday, said he was comfortable with the course. Looking at the fairway from every tee box, he said he was able to visualize his strategy with ease.
"I can see where to hit him and where not to hit him," he said. "I think that's why I feel comfortable playing here."
His Sunday group includes Johnson and Abraham Ancer, who will also be making his Masters debut.
Bryson DeChambeau isn't quite out of things.
Say what you want about Bryson DeChambeau, but the man can recover.
A disastrous second round left DeChambeau, the pre-tournament favorite, right on Saturday morning. He's not fading: he scored a 69, his best round of the tournament, on Saturday, finishing tied for 29th with three under par.
A comeback to win this year's green jacket is highly unlikely – the 54-hole tournament record that Jack Burke Jr. in 1956 is eight tricks – but DeChambeau could still end up with a much more credible result than it seemed recently.
DeChambeau started a bogey on the 10th hole on Sunday, but belonged to par-5 No. 13, where he posted a double bogey in the second round.
The 14th hole is another where DeChambeau switched between the results this week: birdie, par and bogey. Once he hits the third hole, see if he's freed himself from the golf demons who left him with a triple bogey on Friday and almost derailed his tournament in its entirety.
Crucial to any success for DeChambeau could be whether his dizziness, which he said started Thursday night, has disappeared. He said he had tested negative for coronavirus.
"Anytime I would bend over and come up again, I'd like to lose my point of view a little," DeChambeau said Saturday. "So I don't know what's going on. I need to do some blood tests and get a check on what's going on in this low season."
Fog delayed the start of Sunday
A thick fog enveloped the Augusta region on Sunday morning, delaying all start times by 10 minutes. By the time Rory McIlory, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood fired at No. 1 just after 9:00 am, conditions were starting to clear, although the government's advice on dense fog would not expire until 11:00 am
Because of the fog the starting times were reduced by ten minutes with the groups below.
Eventually, forecasters said, Augusta will see a partially sunny day with a maximum temperature of 80 degrees.
The final round will air on CBS from 10 a.m. Eastern, an earlier-than-usual Sunday start at 3 p.m. finish and green jacket presentation before the televised broadcast gives way to noon N.F.L. reporting at 4 pm
This year's big losers? Ticket scalpers.
To reach Augusta National Golf Club from downtown on a Sunday morning, you passed restaurants, shops, and even a church with a sign saying "THIS IS THE MASTERS HOUSE."
Absent: Ticket Scalpers. Usually a staple of Augusta during Masters week, especially closer to Interstate 20, the resellers don't have tickets to sell because the club has banned customers this year, as fans are known in tournament language.
"The Masters is truly, in my opinion, the largest ticket in the world," said James DiZoglio, a ticket broker who estimated that about 40 percent of his sales came from this tournament, the only major wave to hit every year. at the same club. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime event for many people."
Club officials hope fans can return next year, but they have given no guarantees. And the collapse of the resale market around the Masters is a symptom of bigger problems in the ticket industry at a time when live events are so scarce.
Tiger Woods, the defending Masters champion, stunned a dinner from past winners on Tuesday night when he was swelling with emotion.
"He said he was on his way to the golf course and that he had to stop because he had tears in his eyes and stood on the road for a while. because a lot of memories went through his mind very quickly, ”Gary Player, three-time winner at Augusta National, recalled Thursday.
Jack Nicklaus, who won the Masters six times, shared Player's opinion: "I've never seen Tiger like this. But it was good.
Woods, who is in 20th place and going into the final round at five under par, will definitely have to steal his nerves before Sunday when he'll either match Nicklaus' Masters record or get one will present. from Augusta National's green coats to someone else. He posted an even-par 72 on Saturday, his highest round of this year's tournament, saying he hadn't thought about Sunday's possible sentiments.
"I was focused on getting myself going. Tomorrow," said Woods, assigned to play with Shane Lowry, who won the last British Open, and Scottie Scheffler, who is making his Masters debut.
"We'll see how emotional it will be after tomorrow's round," Woods said.
Softer greens reward aggressive play.
Augusta National was inundated with rain last week, saturating and slowing greens, which are usually lightning fast. As a result, players have been able to aim for the pins on the par-3's. In the first three rounds, Dustin Johnson played the four shortest holes in 4-under. His closest challengers also fared well with them: Sungjae Im (2-below); Abraham Ancer, (bottom 4); Cameron Smith, (bottom 3); Dylan Frittelli (even par) and Justin Thomas (2-under).
"In mild conditions, you can be really aggressive no matter which club you control," Johnson said.
The green coat ceremony will take place in 2020.
Not too long from now on, someone will be offered one of the green coats that have been offering Augusta National members since 1937 and Masters winners since 1937. 1949 (and, as we wrote this week, anyone – including you! – can sometimes buy from the auction block)
The green coat ceremony will, as usual, take place at Butler Cabin. But Fred S. Ridley, the president of Augusta National, said people watching from home would see more of the room than usual because participants, including Tiger Woods, the reigning champion, will be placed further apart in accordance with the guidelines for social distance.
"We will have the same people in the cabin with the same basic ceremony, but I think we can do it the right way," said Ridley.
A typical part of the Sunday festivities will not happen, however: There usually won't be a ceremony on the 18th green, Ridley said, because that event is primarily for spectators attending the tournament.