Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka among golfers benefiting most from 2020 Masters moving to November
Here's how the shifting schedule affects golf's upper crust
The 2020 Masters has officially been postponed from April to November due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is hopeful (we might actually get a Masters in 2020!) but also a bummer because of what it means about what's happening in the present day.
Obviously, golf awards and accomplishments are inconsequential in these times, but it is an intriguing thought exercise to consider which golfers this move to November helps and which ones it hurts.
So I pulled from a who's who list of golfers that will be playing at Augusta National in November (assuming golf will be played at Augusta National in November) to see who will benefit from the delay and whose game may suffer because of it.
Tiger Woods: It's gotten a little bit buried by the pandemic, but Woods did not play the Players Championship and would've been off for two months between his last appearance (last at the Genesis Invitational) and his next at the Masters. A move to November may or may not mean his back and neck and knees are good to go (I can't think the cold weather will be all that beneficial), but he was a wild card anyway coming into April. An extended period of recovery (and practice) time will likely benefit him. Verdict: Helps
Rory McIlroy: Nobody was playing better golf rolling toward Augusta National than McIlroy. Seven straight top-five finishes worldwide, including a win in China at the HSBC Champions in November, and he was (and is) far and away the No. 1 player in the world. While the cooler weather in November may help the biggest hitters like McIlroy, there's no guarantee that he'll be feeling it like he was going into April. Verdict: Hurts
Sungjae Im: Im is maybe the best player of all-time and had been playing the best golf of his life. Coming off a win at the Honda Classic, he also played great at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and was poised to make a real run at his first Masters in April. Like McIlroy, he may actually be playing better in the fall, but I think the odds are better that he's not (however, at 50-1 he's a great play right now for November). Verdict: Hurts
Brooks Koepka: Again, maybe it got swept under the rug that he's been playing really poor golf for the last six months and has been struggling with injuries, but he was not one of the favorites coming in even if the Las Vegas numbers said differently. I'm actually bearish on him in the long-term, but I do think there's a specific scenario where he finds some game in the fall (if there is game to be played) and rolls into the Masters with his major momentum back. Verdict: Helps
Dustin Johnson: Like Koepka, he hasn't been himself of late. He has just three top 10s since finishing runner-up at the PGA Championship last May and only two on the PGA Tour. D.J. should have had more success than he's actually had at Augusta National, and maybe this layoff and build-up will help. Verdict: Helps
Jordan Spieth: The 2015 Masters champion is now outside the top 50 and limping into every tournament he plays. As somebody who's a Spieth defender (his early trajectory was as one of the 20 best players who has ever lived) and believes the sport is better when he's thriving, this has been tough to watch. This is going to sound insane (which means it might be), but I think a move to November means the equilibrium of Spieth entering Augusta is all thrown off. It seems that no matter how poorly he's playing, it always snaps into place at least a little bit for him at Augusta in April (he's never finished worse than 21st). Maybe he's playing better by then, but also, maybe a wonky event at a weird time of the year doesn't click with him like normal. Verdict: Hurts
Justin Thomas: It's tough to determine either way with him because he's playing great and is probably the third-best golfer in the world right now. He's destroyed worlds in the fall though. Maybe it's the courses he's played or maybe it's coincidental, but he has absolutely crushed in October and November over the past several years. There's a chance (maybe a good one) that this doesn't matter at a course like Augusta National, but it's at least worth considering. Verdict: Helps (slightly)
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