Bryson DeChambeau will miss the fans at the Masters but the lack of spectators might give him an advantage on some holes at Augusta National.
DeChambeau has taken golf by storm of late with his dramatically increased length, including his recent win at the U.S. Open.
In preparing for the Masters without fans, DeChambeau plans to hit drives where he would normally not be able to land his golf ball. He cited Nos. 13 and 18.
“But as of this year, it’s going to be different because I’m going to be able to hit it on certain lines where patrons would be, and I feel like that it does provide me a little bit of an advantage in that case to be able to hit into those areas without thinking about it at all,” DeChambeau said Tuesday.
“So you know, that would be the best answer I can give on that because you look at 18, I’m hopefully going to be able to hit it over those bunkers where the patrons would be. Another one would be 13 even. I can hit it through almost into 14 and they would be there, so this is a unique opportunity I think this year.”
It’s a long-standing fan favorite for players to skip a ball across the pond at the par-3 16th during practice rounds. But what do you do if there are no fans?
Jon Rahm kept the tradition alive on Tuesday despite the empty course — and he made quite a memory. Rahm skipped a ball that hit water four times, jumped up on the green, rolled to the back of the green, took the break to the back-left pin location and — plunk — found the bottom of the cup for a hole-in-one.
Not everyone, however, is choosing to play to the non-patron crowd.
Justin Thomas played with a group that included Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth on Sunday.
“It’s definitely for the fans,” Thomas said Tuesday. “Sunday we were going to skip and we had a group of members behind us, and they were on the 15th green, so we didn’t feel the need to hold them up.
“And then yesterday Tiger (Woods) and Freddy (Couples) didn’t really want to and I kind of do whatever they say around this place, so I’m 0 for 2.”
With 7 a.m. tee times to start Round 1 of the Masters on Thursday, that means it’s an early start for honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. They will officially open the 2020 Masters at 6:50 a.m.
Andy Ogletree will have a short stay in the Crow’s Nest — but not because the Georgia Tech golfer won’t play well at the Masters.
It’s just another break from tradition due to the coronavirus.
Staying in the Crow’s Nest of the Augusta National club house is one of the perks for the amateurs in the field for the Masters. However, due to the pandemic, only one amateur can stay in the noted on-course accommodations at a time for social distancing. Ogletree, who won the 2019 U.S. Amateur and delayed turning pro to play in the Masters, will stay Wednesday night, on the eve of the tournament following the Amateur dinner.
If there is a chance, Ogletree said he like to stay another night. That will depend on how well he and the other five amateurs in the field play.
Rahm, who is making his fourth Masters appearance, said he got some good advice from Phil Mickelson about what it takes to win this tournament.
“He’s told me many times, you don’t need to play perfect golf to win at Augusta National. After watching many of the Sunday broadcasts that they have been kind enough to post online, you see the leader making mistakes on Sundays. You see everybody making mistakes.
“So it’s something that everybody is going to do. You’re not going to play flawless and go bogey free for 72 holes out here because it’s nearly impossible. Just understand that you don’t need to hit every shot perfect, and you’re allowed to make some mistakes, and you can still actually get it done and win a tournament without playing perfect.”
Rahm, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, said he is very confident heading into the week, especially after a second-place finish at the Zozo Championship last month.
The rain that is expected all week in Augusta will likely start Tuesday. Weather forecasts call for a chance of rain starting mid-afternoon with increasing chances of thunderstorms overnight.