The construct of the field for the 2020 Masters was announced months ago but it’s timely to revisit it once more. The qualifiers for the tournament were set as if it had been staged in its usual slot in April. Winners of eligible tournaments since play resumed in June qualified only for the 2021 Masters.

With the recent withdrawals of Joaquin Niemann and Sergio Garcia, both due to COVID-19, the field stands at 92 as of Monday afternoon. Twenty-six (or 28 percent) are first-time participants, a not-so-insignificant fact given the documented value of course knowledge at Augusta National Golf Club. Because the par 72 is so consistent over time, the golfers aren’t just playing the course, they’re playing against relative experience of others. It’s as close to a home-course advantage as a veteran can get at what technically is a neutral site.

The variable that’s new to all is the weather, at least as it concerns the seasons. However, with traces of summertime heat and humidity hanging on, it’s possible if not probable that only the reduction of daylight hours will feel different to everyone who has traveled to Augusta, Georgia, in early April. Daytime highs will eclipse 70 degrees and even flirt with 80 during the first two rounds. Winds will be light, but rain is all but guaranteed thanks in part to the encroachment of what’s left of Tropical Storm Eta that made landfall in southern Florida late on Sunday night. Suffice it to say that the SubAir system has been oiled and will be engaged.

Advance forecasts were suggesting much cooler air. The compromise is that it’ll likely be warm enough for fewer hours every day, but the impact on the distance the ball flies won’t be as substantial as previously considered. Even so, because Augusta National is a second-shot test and favors placement off the tee over length, the conditions could influence roll on the fairways and the greens.

Because of the unprecedented transition to the fall, comparisons to the last edition in 2019 should be left to the record only, but there’s still a curiosity for how Augusta National will stack up against it this week. With a scoring average of 71.865, the 2019 field was the first to break par since 1992. The average driving distance of 296.5 yards was much longer than usual (although only holes 1 and 2 are measured) as driving accuracy also rose. Those two statistics rarely evolve with a direct relationship, but all other facets of completing a round also were easier.

Defending champion Tiger Woods navigated a scintillating finale to prevail and he led the tournament in greens in regulation. That’s job one for anyone who intends for him to slip the green jacket over his shoulders come Sunday. ShotLink isn’t utilized at Augusta National, but it’s not dumbing down the recap by attaching other analytics to his performance. Woods ranked 10th in converting GIR into par breakers, 14th in putts per GIR and T10 in bogey avoidance. On the whole, it was just enough to escape with a one-stroke victory, his 15th in a major.

For the second consecutive edition, Augusta National tips at 7,475 yards. The addition of 40 yards to the par-4 fifth hole last year yielded a scoring average of 4.336. Not only was it the hardest hole on the course, but it also was the 10th-hardest of 522 par 4s in all of 2018-19. That’s notable because as recently as 2016, it wasn’t inside the top-half hardest holes on the course.

In addition to a new format that will send groupings off split tees in the first two rounds, the 36-hole cut has been modified to low 50 and ties. The previous provision of including all within 10 strokes of the lead has been eliminated.

Included in a series of spoils, the champion will receive a lifetime exemption into the Masters, five-year exemptions into the other three majors and a five-year membership exemption on the PGA TOUR.

20.  Tiger Woods Tiger Woods
His form isn’t inspiring and he’ll miss the din of the patrons, but this is the Masters and he’s defending his fifth title. That deserves more respect than any other quantifiable component.
19 Lee Westwood Lee Westwood
Returns for the first time since finishing T18 in 2017. The steady 47-year-old can tap into a sparkling record that includes a pair of seconds and a T3 among nine top 20s.
18 Ian Poulter Ian Poulter
Although he’s 44 years of age, the Brit isn’t slowing down. Arrives having gone T6-5th-T12 from Scotland to Shadow Creek. Also 13-for-14 with seven top 20s at the Masters; T12 in 2019.
17 Tyrrell Hatton Tyrrell Hatton
Possesses easily the worst career record of the golfers in the Power Rankings (2-for-3, no top 40s, 74.20 scoring average), but he’s been dialed in all year. Won BMW PGA a month ago.
16 Adam Scott Adam Scott
No top 20s since connecting wins in Australia and at Riviera, but he’s a horse for the course with a win (2013), a T2 (2011) and another six top 20s contributing to a 16-for-18 record.
15 Bubba Watson Bubba Watson
Two-time champ (2012, 2014) is comin’ in hot! In last five starts, he’s recorded four top 20s, including a T7 at Shadow Creek and a T4 at Sherwood. T5-T12 in last two Masters, too.
14 Louis Oosthuizen Louis Oosthuizen
Reminded everyone of his mettle at Winged Foot with a solo third. It’s one of five top 25s since August. Runner-up here in 2012 is one of five top 25s among seven cuts made.
13 Patrick Cantlay Patrick Cantlay
Rested since lifting the trophy at Sherwood. It was the timing of numerous elements that finally fired all at once. Finished T9 in the 2019 Masters with a 12-under 64-68 weekend.
12 Hideki Matsuyama Hideki Matsuyama
Fresh off a close call in Houston, arguably still Japan’s clubhouse leader of threats to become the nation’s first to win a major. He’s 7-for-8 with four top 20s at the Masters.
11 Jason Day Jason Day
The weather shouldn’t be an issue for his back, allowing him to pile onto an 8-for-9 slate with a trio of top fives, including a T5 last year. Also bounces in on a T7 in Houston.
10 Tony Finau Tony Finau
On short list of exceptions for whom course experience hasn’t mattered. Since 2018 debut, he’s finished a respective T10 and T5. Six top 11s in last 10 starts, including two majors.
9 Patrick Reed Patrick Reed
His only top 20 in six appearances was the victory in 2018, but the 30-year-old has entered his career prime. Investment in relying on feel has yielded one top 15 after another all year.
8 Justin Thomas Justin Thomas
Now in fifth appearance at Augusta National, he’s scored better and finished higher in each, but he’s still chasing his first top 10. Has a win and three seconds in the restart.
7 Xander Schauffele Xander Schauffele
The quick study is 12-for-13 in the majors with a T2 at the 2019 Masters among six top 10s, including the last two. Also has a pair of runners-up in his last four starts.
6 Bryson DeChambeau Bryson DeChambeau
He’ll be two titles into the “DeSlambeau” if he picks off the second major of the super season. Chatter over distance overlooks touch needed around and on greens. Ultimate exam.
5 Webb Simpson Webb Simpson
After forgettable weeks during his first six trips, he’s gone T20-T5 here since 2019. Combination of ball-striking and putting thrusts him into the mix regularly. Two wins in 2020.
4 Brooks Koepka Brooks Koepka
He’s feeling strong and arrives having ranked second in Strokes Gained: Putting en route to a T5 in Houston. Perfect in four trips with a co-runner-up in 2019; co-led in par-5 scoring.
3 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy
This is already his sixth attempt to complete the career grand slam. In 11 career appearances, he’s logged five top 10s and another four top 25s. He’s gone T8-T8-T21-T17 as a father.
2 Jon Rahm Jon Rahm
Momentous opportunity for the Spaniard who turns 26 on Tuesday. Six victories, five seconds and three thirds worldwide since he finished T9 at the 2019 Masters. Also fourth in 2018.
1 Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson
In last six events bracketing a month off that included two missed starts due to COVID-19, he’s lost to only eight golfers. T2 here in 2019 was his fourth consecutive top 10.


Source: PGATour.com


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