The greens are firm and fast. The spectators are back. The course is blush with azaleas, not fall colors. For young players, this tournament is a chance for a Masters experience more traditional.
AUGUSTA, Georgia - CT Pan debuted outstanding at the Masters Tournament last November, finishing 10below par for a tie for seventh place and $ 358,417 in prize money. But the coronavirus pandemic and the tournament schedule meant that one of the sport's holiest stages wasn't itself.
"This one definitely looks more like my first Masters, " Pan, 29, said this week. "I played nine holes there with people following me, some tee shots I got goosebumps just hearing people cheering me on.
For the 13 golfers who played their inaugural Masters tournament in November and are on the field again this week, the competition of this year may feel like a second try at a first dance with a childhood crush.
In November, the Augusta National Golf Club is almost empty but With abundant fall hues, they found a soft course that played long and was sensitive to bite-sized balls. Now there are fans ready to donate. masked roars amid the athletic and aesthetic splendors of a Georgia spring: terribly fast and firm greens, and azaleas so vivid their pinks dazzle even from one or more driving ranges. Image Sungjae Im knows that the course reading will be very different from the month of November. Credit ... Doug Mills / The Hfrance.fr
"In November, it 'was very soft so I knew where to put it and was confident it was going to stop,' said Sungjae Im, who tied for second and had the lowest 72 hole score of all freshman Masters players in history, said through an interpreter. "I have to be strategic about exactly where to land the ball.
Experience, a hard-earned advantage in any tournament, is often considered essential to Mastery. No player won during his fatherfirst appearance since Fuzzy Zoeller conquered the course 42 years ago. Even though 14 rookies made the Cup in November, a Masters record, ask one player after another, and almost everyone will preach at length about how Augusta National is particularly inclined to reward men who know her.
"The more you play it, the more you understand it," said Bubba Watson, who won the tournament in 2012 and 2014. "That doesn't mean that you are going to play well, that does not mean that you are going to win. It just means you understand how difficult it is. " Image Cameron Champ was hoping to learn from his mistakes at the 2020 Masters. Credit ... Doug Mills / The Hfrance.fr
Many past winners offered advice to newcomers, such as when Three-time winner Phil Mickelson who placed 46th in his first Masters and was this year's weak amateur, spent some time in November advise Cameron Champ on how to play No. 17. ( "If you're going to miss this fairway " said Mickelson as they watched the par 4 uphill, "miss it , because you have an angle in the green. "continued to birdie or par over the hole, known as Nandina, on every round of competition.)
Jon Rahm recently recalled how he offered a different suggestion to Sebastian Munoz on the last round ofNovember th: "I told him pretty much everything you learn today, this week, forget him because he will never play like that again, period.
At that time, Munoz had heard a similar message from Vijay Singh and Jose Maria Olazabal, two former laureates whose point of view he condensed into nine words: " Dude, that ' is completely different from what we are used to. "
And so this year turns out to be very different from what newcomers experienced a few months ago. Some staples from Augusta National , of course, are now modestly more familiar: breathtaking changes in elevation, wind regimes, sightlines, hidden lore. What November could offer most, however, was simply a chance to work on the nervousness of the masters, which is to be expected on a course that many players have grown up revering.
"I don't think I've learned much because the course is completely different now " said Abraham Ancer, who tied for 13th in November. "But obviously for me it was a great experience to gain confidence and to know that I can play well here. Image Collin Morikawa said he has more confidence at this year's Masters . Credit ... Doug Mills / The Hfrance.fr
Collin Morikawa, who won last year's PGA Championship, is also more confident in because of his first Masters outing. Again, he noted, he arrived at Augusta National last year before.ec a similar certainty.
"I thought everything was fine and I thought I could bring my 'A ' game and come here and win, " he said . He finished tied for 44th place.
"Knowledge of the course really helps " he said this week. "Obviously, the more reps you get, the better off you'll be. It'll never hurt you. So, well, to be here for the second time, I feel a lot more comfortable, I know where are things, and I kind of know the nuances of everything. "
He said he had tweaked a new driver and hoped that would offer him a solution for straighter holes that aren't always compatible with his favorite cuts.
"Last year I tried to working in a draw and I wasn't playing my game, ”he said.re. "I almost tried to adapt my game to the way the course fits instead of playing my game and if the hole didn 't hit me find another way.
Champ suggested he was trying to learn from his mistakes no matter how different the course might be now. But he and others said they were delighted that the fans, known as bosses in Masters parlance, were back on the course in limited numbers.
"C It's a little weird, but it looks a bit more, obviously, like the Masters, ”he said just as a cheer rose from the bottom nine. "Like I said, you can hear the fans - it's probably 16 over there - so it just gives you a little more energy, a little more vibe, especially if you're playing well.
The exacting standards of Masters spectators, who are believed to be among themore demanding of golf, did not bother Ancer. The page After all, the campaign is part of the draw of the tournament and, for some golfers, part of the strategy to play a little better.
"It 's nice to be on 12 and hit in front of people, and obviously you feel a bit more of a pressure," he said, referring to a hole where the fans are tucked around the tee box. "But that's good. I like to feel that way.
He is not one of those players who considers this year's tournament to be his first at Augusta National. At the same time, he hasn't quite left the 2020 edition.
The invitation, he says, is still in his mind. living room.