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A tradition unlike any other (it wrote itself)
Augusta National announced Wednesday that the 2020 Masters will be played without patrons. This decision was inevitable, right? The PGA Championship was played without fans. The US Open will be played without fans. The entire PGA Tour restart has been played without fans — including the Memorial, which was supposed to have fans.
There’s no doubt Augusta National took this decision seriously. The Masters means hundreds of millions of dollars to the Augusta economy. Lots of houseowners in town rely on the Masters patrons to pay off some of their mortgage every year through exorbitantly priced house rentals. Restaurants — chained and locally based — rack up tabs from big rollers. Corporate events are a dime a dozen.
Yet still, Augusta National chair Fred Ridley decided in-person attendance wasn’t an option.
The Masters will be weird without the roars. Attendees and people watching at home know what the roars mean, where they’re coming from and for which players. But the PGA didn’t have roars, and it was a tremendous tournament. In fact, I thought the PGA was special because of the relative silence. The Masters in November might feel like what it’s like to play in a member tournament, which in and of itself could be a compelling vibe. For the architecture fans, this might be our best chance to truly see Augusta National on TV, without scores of people to obscure the true sight lines and the brilliance of what Alister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones produced.
Regardless of people being there or not, it’s the Masters. We’ll be watching.
Brooks talks the talk that he didn’t walk the walk
I’m firmly convinced Brooks Koepka flailed on Sunday at the PGA Championship because he miscalculated what was going to happen. He just as well assumed he would be locked in a one-on-one battle with Dustin Johnson as he sought to close out a fifth major title and a third-consecutive year with the Wanamaker. But that wasn’t what happened.
At one point on Sunday, nine players were tied for the lead. Few of them truly went away — Koepka was one of them — over the course of the final 18 holes. In the end, Collin Morikawa, who was the best golfer of the week, won his first major title.
The laughing and finger-pointing at Brooks on Twitter was because he so obviously tried to plant a bug in Dustin Johnson’s head, and he ultimately couldn’t back it up with his play. (Johnson also beat Koepka on Sunday.) Koepka owned up to that failure in an interview with Eamon Lynch at Golfweek.
“I put more pressure on myself than anything external. At the same time, I didn’t back it up,” he said. “That’s my own problem. Part of being someone who talks openly and truthfully is that sometimes I come off cocky or arrogant, and it can backfire if you’re not going to play good. That’s exactly what happened.”
What else is he supposed to say, that his strategy was brilliant until it wasn’t?
Brooks is captivating because he’s brash and arrogant and acts like he doesn’t care if anyone likes him, while at the same time he’s also always looking for something petty to motivate him in direct contrast of being a cool dude. There’s a complexity there. He has beefs and gripes and gets upset while trying to play rubber-glue and give it back to others.
Based on four major wins, Koepka may have become convinced the mind games need to be part of his repertoire to win. Turns out, that really has nothing to do with it. The most intimidating thing about the greats is that their greatness was inevitable, and everyone knew it. Koepka beat himself on Saturday night at the PGA, and it should be a mistake he won’t make again.
What I’m reading, watching and listening to
It’s the ball! Jonathan Wall writes about a study he conducted comparing the modern Tour-caliber ball to older balata balls. The results — and this isn’t clickbait — will surprise you.
Bjorn to walk: Thomas Bjorn is walking 130 miles over four days, from the Euro Tour’s HQ at Wentworth to Celtic Manor, host of this week’s Celtic Classic. John Huggan finds out why.