Tiger Woods was very specific in his reasoning for looking forward to a Masters without patrons. Alex Perry explains why armchair fans feel the same
Watching professional golf from the comfort of our armchairs has been rather refreshing since the tours’ big names started returning to our television screens.
Can anyone really say that having no fans in attendance has spoiled their viewing experience?
Pre-pandemic, we couldn’t get through a tournament without exploding with rage into any social media platform that would listen as golf fans time and time again failed to control themselves under the influence of that pathetic excuse for beer.
Instead, we hear conversations between players and caddies, players and players, players and rules officials, and, perhaps most importantly, far more swearing. (Don’t you even try and pretend you don’t enjoy a player dropping an f-bomb so well executed you wonder why they couldn’t have put that level of commitment into their shot just seconds earlier.)
PGA Tour events were meant to be fan-free for just four events. That quickly became five, then six, then the remainder of the 2020 schedule.
While there is still no word on 2021 regular season events, the US Open and, more controversially, the Masters, which fall into next season’s schedule, will be without fans – or, in case the Augusta suits are reading, “patrons”.
While it’s worked so far, and will continue to do so, the Masters is where it will start to really sink in. Rarely, if ever, is any tee shot on the end of loutish shrieking from the Mashed Potato Brigade.
The roars that echo around golf’s most famous plot of land whenever a player rolls in a birdie on Augusta’s glass-like greens leaves fans – both onsite and at home – as well as players in a beautiful state of wonderment. As Tiger Woods says: “Somebody did something, somewhere, and you’re scoreboard watching to try and figure out what’s going on.”
Woods adds that playing without fans has made “a big difference”. “We just don’t have the same type of energy and the distractions,” he explains. “Guys are making more birdies because of it.”
And he has a point. The winners of the 11 events since the restart are a combined 203-under-par, an average of -18. In the previous 11 events, it was 161-under-par for an average of -14.
If that means more birdies at Augusta in November, only time will tell. But the 15-time major champion will head to Georgia excited for what a patron-free Masters will bring.
Woods, who first played Augusta in 1995 with no one else there, said it was “eye-opening” to how much room there was to work with.
“When you put 40,000 people on such a small piece of property, it gets confined,” he explains. “This will be very different. This will be a fun Masters.”
It’ll be a new experience for us armchair fans too. But for one year only please, Covid. We want the roars to return in April.
Are you excited for a fan-free Masters – provided it’s a one-off, of course? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet me.
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