For the first time in its long, storied history, the Masters will be played in the fall.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of golf’s first major of the year, which is traditionally played in April. The Masters will now be the final major of 2020 when it takes place Nov. 12-15 at Augusta National Golf Club.
It’s been 19 months since Tiger Woods accomplished one of the greatest comebacks in sports history by winning his fifth green jacket and his 15th career major championship, bringing him closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major wins. Since his previous major win at the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods had experienced a series of personal embarrassments and a nagging back injury that required multiple surgeries. Many wondered if Woods was finished as a serious contender, but he silenced doubters with a final-round rise up the leaderboard and a 1-stroke win at golf’s most prestigious event.
“It was an extraordinary thing to see — being what he was, then to descend to the depths that he went to, and overcoming the injury that he has,” recalls Golf Channel’s David Feherty, who worked 19 Masters tournaments as a broadcaster for CBS. “People don’t place enough emphasis on that injury and how debilitating it is for a golfer. Four back surgeries. It’s an astonishing physical achievement, apart from the obvious mental strength that’s involved and desire, and everything that goes along with a comeback like that, which might be unparalleled in the history of sports — certainly in the history of golf. To have been at that height and to descend to those depths and get back, it’s just such a measure of the man. It really is an incredible strength of character.”
Woods has struggled in majors since that win. He failed to make the cut in three of them and his highest finish was a tie for 21st in last year’s U.S. Open. His title will be tough to defend against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa and U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
Famed Augusta National won’t look the same with its fall foliage, and there will be no patrons or guests in attendance, but that one of the great events in sports will still take place in an extraordinarily difficult year is something to be grateful for indeed.
ESPN has coverage of the first and second rounds Thursday and Friday at 1pm ET both days. CBS takes over on Saturday at 1pm ET and Sunday at 10am ET. Live coverage of featured groups and holes is available on Masters.com and the Masters app.