The opening round of the 89th edition of the Masters is just hours away. Here’s what some of the key players are saying on the eve of the final major of 2020.
How the course will play ...
“Will it play different? Maybe. I think this year will be unique because you can maybe take advantage of where usually the patrons are at, like 13, you have a lay‑up, you can go as far right as you want now and almost 14 tee and have a different angle. Same on 2, you can move the ball around a little bit more, like we can on practice rounds when we come on a normal day. We'll see. Again, visually and mentally, fans will be missed.
“You don't need to play perfect golf to win at Augusta National. You just need to stay true to yourself and just play the best you can with what you have at the moment and not be too, let's say, ambitious. I've erred about being too aggressive in the past, and I've made birdies, but I've also made some big numbers.”
No patrons ...
“We all miss the energy of the crowds. And yes, this year is going to be very different. It's going to be stark in what we see, our sights into the greens, the energy that you hear from different roars, from different parts of the golf course. I mean, you're on the putting green up on 1 and you can hear eagles down on 13. That's what this tournament is all about, and we're not going to have that this year. It's going to be very different.
“It's one that none of us have ever experienced. So we're all going to go through it together at the same time and it's going to be a very different experience, and you know, hopefully one that I can figure it out and be able to replicate what I did last year.
Bryson DeChambeau's transformation ...
“What Bryson has done has been absolutely incredible, and we have all been amazed at what he's been able to do in such a short span of time; it's never been done before.”
First tee nerves ...
“For me, the first tee at Augusta is most nervous I feel at any point during the year.
"Hopefully the work that I have done and been able to do the last couple of months will accumulate and I'll be able to finish the year with a bang here this week.”
How to play Augusta National ...
“I think this golf course does not require you to be perfect. You can recover from certain mistakes as long as they are the correct mistakes. I like that feeling about this golf course that you don't have to be perfect. There's something very spiritual about this place as a golfer, and to have won this tournament means a lot to me. I can't believe it's been ten years since I won it last.
“I would love nothing more than to have an opportunity to be in contention, and that's my goal. I'm not going into this event thinking about winning. I'm going into this event thinking about trying to get into contention for the weekend and then hopefully take it from there.”
Condition of the course ...
“The ball doesn't sit nearly as well around the greens with I think both the Bermuda and the overseed coming in, you're going to have some sketchy lies around the greens, balls that are sitting down to where you're not going to be able to get the spin that you're used to getting, especially chipping up to the elevated greens or when you need to spin one, hold it against the slope or whatever it is.
“But I think you're going to see that over the course of the week. Definitely some chips that kind of come out high and knuckly and with a lot of top spin on it. But everybody has to deal with it. Everyone is playing the exact same golf course, so you can't complain or make a fuss about it because everyone is teeing it up in the same spot on Thursday.”
Current form ...
“I feel like I'm playing really, really well. It's probably the best I've played in my career … I feel like there's still a lot of room for improvement, but it's very consistent as far as day‑in and day‑out, my shot shape, my flight and controlling by distance. I've put in a lot of work on especially the wedges, being able to control my distance with wedges.
Green jacket dreams ...
“Growing up as a kid, being only about an hour way from here; so on the putting green, hitting chips or putts, it was always to win the Masters, and it was just a tournament because it was so close that everybody, it was what we dreamed about winning.”
Hitting it further than ever ...
“Every day I'm trying to get faster and stronger and I'm trying to hit it as far as possible.
I will say that I have no idea where the end game is on this. But I will say that I am hitting it further now than I was at Shriners, and I am hitting it further than the US Open, and I'm trying a driver this week that may help me hit it even a little bit further, so we'll see.
“As much as I can gain an advantage off the tee, I still have to putt it well and chip it well and wedge it well and even iron play it well.”
How low will the winner go?
“I can see this being quite a low‑scoring week, but that's just because of the way the golf course is, it's a little softer, it's November. It's going to play a little differently. I still think this golf course provides enough of a challenge to challenge the best players in the world.
Winning the Masters ...
“You have to go out and earn it. You can't just rely on people saying that you're going to win one. Greg Norman never did. Ernie Els never did. There are a lot of great people that have played this game that have never won a green jacket. It's not a foregone conclusion, and I know that. I have to go out and earn it and play good golf. I think nowadays, with how many great players there are, I need to play my best golf to have a chance.”
Not a normal golf course ...
“You watch guys, you talk to guys that have played here, and you really see those little nuances, those little differences in just hitting it to the same exact spot every time; that on a normal golf course, that's what you do, you lay it up to 50, 60 yards. But might not be best for the angles here, especially the greens are so undulating. Sometimes you want it to be maybe a little flatter on the layup or you're trying to run it up the slope.
Getting to work ...
“I've learned one thing in these two months, I learned get off social media, get off all this stuff and just work. If you work, everything takes care of itself, and that's what I've been doing.”
Keeping calm ...
“I think if I can keep myself as fairly calm and in a good place, where, you know, I'm comfortable, then there's no reason why I can't go have a good week here. At the same time I'm well aware that the majors haven't been great this year. But it just is what it is.”