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Today: The Masters is a week away!
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A Masters unlike any other
This time next week, the Masters will be underway at Augusta National.
A field of 96 players will go off the first and 10th tees in threesomes, trying to beat the sunset each day to complete play on Thursday and Friday before what will no doubt be a compelling weekend in the final men’s major of the year.
Augusta is going to look a little different than it does in April, and the days will be two hours shorter (although the sun rises an hour sooner). Still, from visuals we’ve seen, the course looks as good as it would in the spring. Now we just have leaves falling instead of flowers blooming.
For some reason, it was difficult to get excited about the PGA Championship and US Open. I’m grateful both were played, but they just didn’t feel quite right, even though the PGA was played in its old August slot. Winged Foot didn’t feel the same in September compared to June. I’m hoping that with Augusta looking — and probably playing — like it would in April, that a fall Masters will feel pleasantly weird.
The Euro Tour format this week is going to be a delightful train wreck: The European Tour is still in (on?) Cyprus this week for the second of back-to-back events at the Aphrodite Hills resort. Last week it hosted a compelling, albeit standard, 72-hole tournament. This week, the same course hosts a shootout format that’s going to be a great watch. The 105-player field will be cut to the top 32 (!) and ties for the final two rounds. The scores will be wiped for the third round, and then the top 16 and ties from the round move on to Sunday. The scores are wiped again for the final round, with the winner shooting the lowest score on Sunday. The LPGA tried this maybe 15 years ago for their season-ending tournament, and it was wild. Expect the same this week.
Pro careers are going to (maybe) be shorter: Adam Scott is playing this week in Houston, and, as he often does, he made a great observation. He’s 40 now, which is kind of unfathomable, but he’s recognized that where he is life now means he has to capitalize against the Bryson DeChambeaus and Matt Wolffs of the world on specific stages.
“I think it just becomes harder for guys getting well into their 40s to be consistently competitive,” he said. “It just takes a bit more. They’ve got to find their right weeks and take advantage of that.”
Masters merch is trickling out: One of my favorite parts of the Masters is checking out all the themed merch from golf companies. Every year there are some great ideas (also some not-so-good concepts). I’m not a big spender on material things, but this is one of those categories of things that can get to run the card. Between shoes from adidas Golf, Nike Golf and True Linkswear, or headcovers from Bettinardi, TaylorMade and the like, there’s going to be some good stuff to grab if you’re in the mood for it. I’ll be publishing a few stories about the best merch I’m seeing.
You gotta check out…
Rafa Nadal as a pro golfer?: Rafael Nadal is competing this week on the European Challenge Tour. The reigning French Open champion, who is a scratch golfer, spoke to the ATP recently about how good he thinks he can get.
The Advocates Pro Golf Association is growing: The APGA is a tour that was formed 10 years ago to help advance the careers of up-and-coming minority pro golfers, offering playing opportunities. The PGA Tour has gotten on board to assist, and some players are pledging money to help fund player journeys. Kamaiu Johnson, who has an incredible story, is now getting an exemption into the Farmers Insurance Open next year.
Symetra Tour money leader out of the season finale with COVID-19: Fatima Fernandez Cano has been dominant on the shortened Symetra Tour schedule this year. Now she’s out of the season-ending tournament — with a US Women’s Open berth on the line — with a second COVID-19 positive test since the restart. Cano says the first one was a false positive, but she’s now experiencing symptoms. Hopefully she recovers quickly.[/s2If]