It was unique. It was memorable. It was like nothing we’d ever seen. A Masters in November, complete with weather delays, soft conditions and sunset chasing rounds of golf. In the end, it produced a worthy champion in Dustin Johnson and a historic performance.
Johnson’s record-setting Masters will go down as one of the most dominating performances Augusta National has ever seen and headlines a week full of memorable moments. From the fall foliage, to Tiger’s Sunday mishap. Rory’s regret to DJ’s dominance, the 2020 Masters delivered.
Here are 18 parting shots from the 2020 Masters.
Just five months until our next Masters
What’s the best thing about a November Masters? Yes, the fall foliage at Augusta National was a sight to see and the new drone shots gave fans unique views of the golf course that we’ve never seen before. But the most exciting aspect of a November Masters is that we only have to wait five months until our next one.
The build-up to golf’s first major of the year is part of what makes the tournament such a favorite. And we will hopefully return to that traditional crescendo next spring. April 8. Just 144 days until round one of the 2021 Masters, but who’s counting?
Masters Sunday should be a full afternoon
As fun as breakfast at the Masters was this weekend, I’m looking forward to returning to the traditional flow of a weekend at Augusta. This sentiment is especially strong for Sunday. Seeing Dustin Johnson tee off in the final group at 9:29 a.m. ET just felt odd. On a normal final round at Augusta, the leaders would go off at 2:40 p.m. ET, creating a natural swell of excitement throughout the day.
In fact, we haven’t seen the traditional Sunday tee times since 2018. During Tiger Woods's magical win a year ago, tee times were moved up due to an approaching storm. It will be nice to get back to normal in 2021 ... hopefully.
McIlroy waits another year for career grand slam
The wait continues for Rory McIlroy as he tries to complete the career grand slam. A T-5 finish is certainly nothing to shrug at, but McIlroy is fully aware of what could have been. Derailed by an opening-round 75, Rory played the final 54 holes in 14 under par.
“I felt more relaxed this week,“ said McIlroy following a final-round 69. “I didn’t have a great start but over the last 54 holes there was a lot of great golf in there.”
Can McIlroy find that same groove and turn it into four rounds next April? If so, we could see a DJ-type performance from the Northern Irishman next spring.
Tiger train wreck
It’s painful to watch any golfer melt down at the Masters, but when it’s arguably the greatest player of all time, you simply can’t help but stare. Three balls in the water. Tiger Woods’s 12th-hole disaster on Sunday resulted in a 10 on his scorecard. It was Woods’s highest score on a major championship hole in his career and at the time dropped him from -3 to +4 for the tournament.
“I committed to the wrong wind,” said Woods of his tee shot on 12. “I got ahead of it and pushed it, and that just started the problems from there.”
As jolting as the 10 was, Tiger’s ability to bounce back with birdies on five of his final six holes says a lot about the pride Woods takes in how he performs at the Masters.
Hats off to Augusta National for pulling off a November Masters
The folks donning the green jackets at Augusta National deserves a huge tip of the cap for pulling off a Masters tournament during a pandemic. The decision to not have patrons on site was the correct one, and though it certainly created a unique feel to the tournament, Augusta National rolled with the punches during the unprecedented Masters and came out smelling like azaleas.
Weather delays, wet conditions and a lack of daylight all couldn’t take away from a well-executed tournament. Well done.
Bryson DeChambeau’s health concern
Bryson DeChambeau leaves Augusta National both frustrated and concerned after a T-34 finish. Following Saturday’s third round, DeChambeau revealed he had been dealing with a few health issues during the week. Along with pain in his abdomen, Bryson experienced some dizziness on the golf course. DeChambeau took a COVID-19 test over the weekend that came back negative, and said he plans on having some blood work done following the Masters to find out what’s going on.
DeChambeau should re-evaluate his Augusta approach
DeChambeau’s claim that, for him, Augusta National was a par 67 raised a ton of eyebrows around the hallowed golf course this week.
Bryson is on the verge of changing the game of golf with his length off the tee, but this week proved that a national treasure like Augusta can not only hold its own against the distance game, it can bite back. DeChambeau’s length with the driver is certainly an advantage at the Masters, but accuracy still trumps distance at Augusta National. Bryson played shots from less-than-ideal locations found only because of his aggressive nature off the tee. That combined with a little bit of bad luck meant DeChambeau was forced to take his Masters medicine. He may want to re-evaluate his approach for April.
Spieth is the ultimate grinder
Jordan Spieth’s game is nowhere near the form we grew accustomed to while he was winning multiple major championships, but the 27-year-old showed that his ability to grind it out is still as elite as they come.
The 2015 Masters champ made the cut on the number at this year’s Masters. With nothing left to play for in the final round, Spieth continued fighting rather than simply going for a Sunday stroll. Jordan reeled off four consecutive birdies on his front nine, showing glimpses of Masters past. Ultimately the round was an even-par 72, which translated into a T-46 finish. Disappointing for a former champion, but there is hope for Jordan as he resets his game for the new year.
A back right hole location at 16th?
The memorable moments at Augusta National’s 16th hole are played over and over on CBS highlight reels. Tiger’s chip in back in 2005. Most recently, Justin Thomas and DeChambeau’s hole in ones on the final day of the 2019 Masters. All made possible by the traditional back left hole location we’ve grown accustomed to on Sunday.
Officials' decision to change the location this year to the right side of the green was puzzling. Gone was the strategy of landing the crest of the hill and seeing your ball make a left-hand turn, trickling down to the cup. It may be the one thing Masters officials got wrong this week.
Lee Elder to be honored in April
Early on during Masters week, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley announced that the club would be honoring Lee Elder. In 1975, Elder became the first black golfer to play in the Masters, breaking the longstanding color barrier at one of the game’s most prestigious events.
Along creating a scholarship in Elder's name at nearby Paine College in Georgia, Augusta National announced the 86-year-old Elder will be an honorary starter for the 2021 Masters in April. Elder will join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the ceremonial tee shot on the first hole. Well done, Augusta National.
International Presidents Cup team in good hands
A few of the most impressive performances of the week came from international up-and-comers. Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith and Dylan Fritelli all showed nicely this week at Augusta. It’s a sign that the International Presidents Cup team is in good hands. With Korea, Mexico, Australia and South Africa represented by this group, there’s strong hope that the Internationals could end the United States's 17-year reign as Cup champions at the 2022 matches at Quail Hollow.
Cameron Smith will win a major one day
SI’s sleeper pick of the week, Cameron Smith, showed he has the game that will eventually produce a major title. Smith is relatively unknown. The 27-year-old Australian has two career victories and plays full-time on the PGA Tour but under general anonymity. His second-place finish at the Masters was historic as he became the first player in tournament history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s. Rounds of 67, 68, 69 and 69 showed the game and consistency needed to win the big one.
Rahm frustration boiled over Saturday
Jon Rahm has made great strides in cooling off his fiery nature. His tendency to get hot at times has gotten in the way of his meteoric ability. Heading into the week, Rahm seemed primed to win at Augusta. He told SI that the key to victory was staying true to himself and trusting his feel.
Rahm was part of a five-way tie atop the leader board after 36 holes until frustration got the best of him on Saturday. A third-round 72 featured a handful of uncharacteristic shots that ignited some of Rahm’s explosive persona. Following the round, the Spaniard‘s blood was clearly boiling. Asked to describe his round, Rahm said, “Seriously? How would I describe? Pretty awful.“
There’s no doubt that Rahm has the game to win multiple major championships. His ability to deal with mid-round adversity will likely determine just when that first major will come.
Koepka says DJ was well suited to win at Augusta
While Brooks Koepka wasn’t over the top with his praise of Dustin Johnson in victory, he did speak to the fact that Augusta National is the perfect fit for his workout buddy.
”The course suited him down to the ground,” said the four-time major champion who finished T-7. “He doesn't spin it that much with his irons so the ball's not going to be backing up and he can get to a lot of the back pins. I mean, I'm not surprised [he won].”
Point being, Augusta National is an ideal fit for certain players. It's why Jack Nicklaus won six, Tiger five, Arnold Palmer four. Expect more of what we saw this week from Dustin Johnson over the second half of his career.
If you don’t know Im, you do now
Sungjae Im may have not been able to track down Dustin Johnson and win the Masters, but the 22-year-old from Korea showed he is ready to compete on the game’s biggest stage. Im is not a household name, but the 2019 rookie of the year has the game to be a factor at many majors to come.
Im is the PGA Tour’s version of the Energizer Bunny. During his rookie campaign he played in a ridiculous 35 events. He’s since cut back on his schedule a smidge but has shown the ball striking and short game required to contend at a place like Augusta National. A win earlier this year at the Honda Classic and a T-2 showing in his first Masters. The future is bright for Sungjae.
Stop and start major, too much for Tiger
At 44 years old with a fused back, simply playing golf is an arduous task for Tiger Woods. As we saw this week, a wet, stop-and-start major championship may just be too much for the 15-time major champion. After being forced to play a round and a half Saturday, completing rounds two and three, Tiger let it be known his body was feeling it.
“If you have long days like this, I'm going to get a little bit sore, which I definitely am,” Woods said.
The extended days combined with the cooler morning temperatures are just not a good fit for Tiger at this point in his career. This is why he’ll continue to pick and choose which events he plays in.
When will we see Tiger again?
Speaking of Tiger’s schedule, one can only speculate when we’ll see Woods next tee it up. Tiger does not traditionally play in the remaining events on the PGA Tour calendar in Sea Isle, Ga., and Mayakoba, Mexico. The Hero World Challenge, which he hosts annually in the Bahamas, has been canceled due to COVID-19 and Woods did not qualify for January’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. It’s highly probable that we won’t see Tiger until late January at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. It’s a tournament Woods regularly plays and finished T-9 in last year.
2020 major season comes to an end
In a year where the thought of conducting a major championship, let alone three, was inconceivable, golf’s governing bodies were able to pull it off. The PGA Tour has been at the forefront of sports' attempt at normalcy during the global pandemic and those involved in the planning and logistics required to produce three exciting majors should be applauded.
The PGA Championship at a new venue in TPC Harding Park brought golf to the great city of San Francisco. New Yorkers received a much-needed boost seeing Winged Foot showcased during the U.S. Open and The Masters gave us a unique version of the most hallowed tournament in the game. 2020 has been a mess in so many ways, but the game of golf showed itself in an extremely positive light during very challenging times.