The long-awaited Masters is finally nearly upon us, but its seven-month delay to an unprecedented November date isn’t the only thing that will make this year’s tournament truly a tradition unlike any other — it’s also the absence of fans.
Though golf viewers have gotten used to the idea of watching the world’s best compete on largely empty courses over the past few months, Augusta National’s amphitheater-like characteristics will likely make the dearth of crowd noise far more noticeable than it is at other venues.
But is there a type of player these unique conditions will favor more than others? According to Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, the answer is yes.
“I think [the lack of fans] benefits the more jittery player [like] Bubba Watson,” Chamblee said. “There are a lot of things about Augusta National that benefit Bubba Watson, and that’s one of them.”
Watson has been open about his struggles with anxiety, but after dropping out of the World Top 100 in 2018, Watson has been resurgent of late, notching two top-7 finishes in October alone. He’s now ranked No. 44 in the world.
“Augusta suits him,” Chamblee said of Watson. “I can’t think of another player — and another golf course — that are a better fit. He likes to slice his driver, which is a right-to-left tee shot, obviously, because he’s a lefty. So that helps him in a huge way on some key holes. Two, 10 and 13 and 14 at Augusta National. And then he likes to draw his irons, which is a left-to-right shot. Which again, helps you on so many different shots into the greens at Augusta National.
“As Phil Mickelson has talked about, in particular the 12th hole, [a lefty’s] pulled short-iron shot into 12 goes and carries a bit further,” Chamblee continued. “So if they miss it, pulling it, it’s going to carry further and get them over the water. And if they come out of it and miss it to the right, which is the more typical miss with short irons and pressure, it’s going to go to the shorter carry on the left of that green. So, you know the golf course just is uniquely suited for extraordinarily talented left-handed players. And we’ve had more than our share of those over the last 20 years and they’ve got more than their share of Masters wins to their credit.”
Watson’s last two finishes at the Masters? T5 and T12. Golfodds.com currently has him listed at 30/1 to win next week. You can listen to the full Brandel Chamblee Podcast with Jaime Diaz here.