The 2020 Masters Tournament was postponed from its traditional April date to November due to COVID-19 concerns. The field that was established in March has stayed the same, without any changes except for a handful of withdrawals. The latest player to withdraw was 2017 champion Sergio Garcia, who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Augusta National Golf Club has been the host course for the Masters since its inception in 1934. The club was the brainchild of legendary Atlanta golfer Bobby Jones, who won the grand slam of golf in 1930. The four tournaments that were considered major events at the time were the U.S. and British Opens and the U.S. and British Amateurs.
Jack Nicklaus won six Masters, the most of any player, on his way to collecting 18 major championships. Since around 1960, the lineup of tournaments that comprise the majors has been the Masters, the PGA Championship and the U.S. and British Opens.
With his victory in 2019, Tiger Woods earned his fifth green jacket, the coveted prize that goes to the Masters champion. It was also his 15th major win, second only to Nicklaus in that category. Arnold Palmer is third on the Masters victories list, with four wins from 1958 to 1964.
Generally, experience plays a big part in the Masters Tournament. Since 1936, only one player has won the tournament in their debut, Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. With the shift to November for this single event, all players will be competing on the course in the fall for the first time.
The most recent major champions, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa, are among a lengthy list of players mentioned with a shot at slipping on the green jacket. DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open in September, is the betting favorite at odds of +800.
Four of the players in the top five in the betting odds have at least one major championship to their credit. Only Jon Rahm has yet to join that exclusive list, but he has four top 10s in majors since 2018. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas round out the top betting favorites.
In 1997, a young Woods overpowered Augusta National on his way to a record-breaking score of 18-under par and a 12-shot victory over Tom Kite. The finish prompted the club to institute a number of changes in an effort to “Tiger Proof” the course.
DeChambeau has been using physical science to maximize his distance. All of his irons are the same length, and he has gained weight to add length to his game. It worked for him at Winged Foot in his U.S. Open win.
It’s hard to believe that Johnson has just one major title, the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Since 2010, Johnson has 18 top 10 finishes in majors, second only to McIlroy. His betting odds are +900, just behind DeChambeau.
Johnson is coming off a tie for second with Hideki Matsuyama in last week’s Vivint Houston Open. He’s the top-ranked player in the world and, at age 36, is a little older than Phil Mickelson was when he started winning major championships. He is playing very well and has a good shot at getting major title number two.
A third player to watch is four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, who took a couple of months off after the PGA Championship to let a knee injury heal. Koepka finished in a tie for fifth in Houston, and he appears to be in good form heading into the Masters. The former U.S. Open and PGA champ is at odds of +1800, not a bad gamble on a proven winner.
Header Image: “Augusta National Golf Course” by Photography by J. Campbell is licensed under CC BY 2.0