Fact or Fiction: This Masters Will Be Won By a Texan, Verne Lundquist’s Best Call

SI Golf’s writers and editors debate whether a two-horse race is emerging, the schism against Greg Norman at Augusta National and more. 
Scheffler shot a 6-under 66 and sits one shot behind DeChambeau.
Scheffler shot a 6-under 66 and sits one shot behind DeChambeau. / Katie Goodale / USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to the first Masters edition of SI Golf’s Fact or Fiction, where we’ll never stop being amazed at the power of Augusta National’s SubAir system.

We’ll be here after every day’s play with a series of statements for writers and editors to declare as “Fact” or “Fiction” along with a brief explanation. Responses may also (occasionally) be “Neutral” since there's a lot of gray area in golf.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on the SI Golf X account.

Bryson DeChambeau, the first-round leader, said in 2020 that Augusta National was a par-67 course for him given his length. He has somewhat walked it back since, but it remains accurate.

John Pluym: FICTION. There’s no doubt DeChambeau is one of the biggest hitters in professional golf. And he proved it in Round 1 of the Masters, averaging 317 yards off the tee. Still, DeChambeau has learned that you can’t always overpower Augusta National. It still comes down to ballstriking, imagination around the greens and a hot putter. He had it going in all three categories Thursday. We’ll find out if he can do it for three more rounds.

John Schwarb: FACT. Let’s face it, most courses are a par-68 or lower for the pros. Doesn’t mean they always shoot it, but still. Going for par-5s in two require a “momentous decision” far less often than Bobby Jones would like. Bryson simply said the quiet part out loud.

Bob Harig: FICTION. It can be a par-67 for the longest hitters on some days, and perhaps Thursday was one of them for DeChambeau. But his comment was made in the context of how far he was hitting the ball and how potentially soft Augusta National would play during the fall 2020 Masters. He learned that there’s far more to hitting long around here, and even if you are accurate off the tee—which he wasn’t—you still need to put the ball in the right spots on the greens. The course yielded some numbers during the first round but only two ended up breaking that magic score Bryson spouted in 2020.

Jeff Ritter: FACT: Bryson hit it in the pines on both back-9 par 5s Thursday and still birdied both of them. If he’s going to hang here through the weekend, he’ll need to continue to shred them.

LIV golfer Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau played his best Masters round, shooting 7-under 65 in the opening round. / Katie Goodale, Katie Goodale / USA TODAY

Scottie Scheffler shot a bogey-free 66 and sits one back of DeChambeau with Round 1 yet to finish. This year’s green jacket is going home to Dallas with one of them.

Pluym: FACT. Well, I guess I’m changing my prediction from Brooks Koepka to Scheffler or DeChambeau. I should have just gone with Scheffler, who shot 32 on the back nine Thursday to close on DeChambeau. The best player in the world played like it in the opening round, and I should have known better.

Schwarb: FACT. It’s easy to get hot take-ish after 18 holes in a major, but Scheffler was bogey-free with six birdies while playing in not-insignificant winds. I’m not sure I’d take the field against him right now, so getting DeChambeau is a bonus.

Harig: FICTION. Scheffler seems inevitable but it’s too early to make such a bold prediction. Yes, he and Bryson have a small advantage over the rest but they’ll have some tough golf to play Friday. Let’s see if they keep it going and if anyone else can take advantage. 

Ritter: FACT: I mean, if I had to guess at this moment, Scheffler just finished a smooth, bogey-free round and his Las Vegas odds have plummeted. At the start of the week he was the man to beat. Now he’s The Man to Beat.

Former PGA Tour golfer Greg Norman
Norman paid for his ticket to attend Wednesday's practice. / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Norman paid for his ticket to attend Wednesday’s practice round, according to his son Greg Jr. This shows that the pettiness of golf’s schism lingers, regardless of the status of any PGA Tour/LIV Golf negotiations

Schwarb: FACT. The Masters doesn’t owe anyone anything, but it’s a minor annoyance for this story to occupy two minutes of the media’s attention. Only the Norman family can create silly drama around a ticket to a golf tournament.

Pluym: FICTION. If you have a six-stroke lead going into the final round of the Masters and you lose, you should have to pay for your ticket. In all seriousness, Norman has been about dividing and conquering the PGA Tour, so I think Mr. LIV can afford a Masters badge.

Harig: FACT. Norman has every right to attend the Masters if he’s able to obtain a ticket or a badge and the idea that he is here and some kind of distraction is silly. So he watched a few of his LIV guys. And then followed Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler for a time Thursday. So what? He probably would have been best to not do any interviews, but that is not Norman’s style in this setting.

Ritter: FACT. I’m not sure Norman is really a distraction, but the fact that Augusta declined to simply credential him turned it into a headline. Didn’t Jack, Gary and Tom just sit at a dias and appeal to the PGA Tour and LIV to find a way to come together? How’s that going?

Sportscaster Verne Lundquist
Lundquist has some of the memorable calls in Masters history. / Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN released a tribute video honoring broadcaster Verne Lundquist’s retirement, which won’t be the last one we’ll see this week. The legend’s best call was “Yes, sir!” when Jack Nicklaus birdied the 17th on Sunday in 1986.

Schwarb: FICTION. Not taking anything away from Verne but his “Yes, sir!” was the second of that historic Sunday—largely lost to history is the fact that Ben Wright said it when Nicklaus eagled 15. The very best call was Tiger’s chip-in at 16 in 2005, which is arguably the best marriage of commentary and video in sports history.

Pluym: FACT. I think it’s the best call in the history of golf. I remember that day in 1986 like it was yesterday, and I still get emotional thinking about it to this day. Jack Nicklaus. Verne Lundquist. It doesn’t get any better.

Harig: FICTION. That is a terrific call, and memorable, but Ben Wright said the same thing earlier in the round when Nicklaus eagled the 15th. No problem. But Verne’s call of Tiger’s chip at 16 in 2005 is better. And the camera work and to stay with the ball and his emotional reaction, of course, make it so.

Ritter: FICTION. I also give the edge to Verne in 2005, which was a special call all his own. Lundquist is a legend, and his voice will be missed.

SI Golf staff