The Masters Tournament: 2020 Preview

by Alec McMordie

For the first time in the 84 editions of the Masters Tournament, the event will take place in November. The Azalea flowers will not be in bloom, yet the weather will be similar to the traditional early April weekend in Augusta, Georgia, with temperatures expected to be in the high-70s. The raining this week in Augusta is likely to continue through Thursday's opening round and perhaps into the weekend. Given COVID-restrictions, there will not be any patrons watching the event at the Augusta National Golf Course.

The favorite this week is Bryson DeChambeau at +650 odds to put on the green jacket on Sunday (all odds from BookMaker). DeChambeau was the best player on the PGA Tour after the restart this summer with seven straight top-eight finishes that culminated with a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in early July. DeChambeau finished tied for 4th place at the PGA Championship before a disappointing 22nd place that Tour Championship the next month in September. However, DeChambeau fulfilled his vast potential two weeks later by winning the U.S. Open with his 6-under par score that dominated a field where no other golfer finished with a score in the red. DeChambeau plans to use his extraordinary driving power to slam through this challenging course to set up short approach shots. However, Augusta National will present the ultimate challenge for this strategy, given its idiosyncrasies on the fairways and greens. The Masters has been a tournament that rewards course experience. DeChambeau has only shot three of his twelve career rounds at Augusta under par. 

Dustin Johnson is the second favorite at +750 odds. Johnson followed up his tie for second place at the PGA Championship by winning the Tour Championship. Johnson then finished tied for 6th place at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. Johnson then dealt with the COVID diagnosis that kept him out a month, but he returned last week with a tie for second place at the Houston Open. Johnson has finished in the top-ten in four of his previous five Masters, including a tie for second place last year. 

Rory McIlroy is the third favorite at +850 odds in his sixth attempt to earn a career grand slam. In 11 trips to Augusta, McIlroy has five top-ten finishes with another four top-25 results. Since becoming a father, McIroy has not finished below 21st place. Yet McIlroy has not placed in the top-five in 12 straight events, including a tie for 8th place at the Tour Championship and a tie for 8th place at the U.S. Open. McIlroy finished tied for 17th place two weeks ago at Sherwood. 

Jon Rahm has +1176 odds to win this week. He comes into this tournament off a tie for second place two weeks ago at the Zozo Championship at Sherwood. After winning the Memorial this summer, Rahm finished tied for 13th place at the PGA Championship before a fourth-place result at the Tour Championship. Rahm then settled for a disappointing 23rd place at the U.S. Open.  At a practice round, Rahm celebrated his 26th birthday on Tuesday by hitting, perhaps, the most remarkable hole-in-one ever, by skipping the ball along the water in front of the 16th green before it rolled into the hole.  Over the last year, Rahm has six victories along with another five second-place finishes since his tie for ninth place at the Masters last year. 

Justin Thomas rounds out the top-five favorites at +1176 odds. Thomas has improved his score in each of his five trips to Augusta. His last three rounds at the Masters in the 60s. Thomas concluded the 2019-20 season with a tie for second place at the Tour Championship. He then finished in a tie for 8th place at the U.S. Open before off a tie for second place with Rahm at the Zozo Championship two weeks ago. 

Tiger Woods has +3253 odds as the defending champion to win his sixth Masters championship. It has been a long time since Woods’ triumphant victory in April of 2019. Woods’ best efforts since then was a top-ten finish last January at Torrey Pines and a tie for 37th place at the PGA Championship in August. 

The tournament tees off at 7 AM ET on Thursday. ESPN and CBS will split the broadcast. ESPN provides live coverage from 1-5:30 PM ET on Thursday and Friday. CBS broadcasts from 1-5 PM ET on Saturday and then 10 AM-3 PM ET on Sunday. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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