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BOB WEST ON GOLF — This Masters truly unlike any other in 83-year history

No tournament excites golf fans like the Masters and events of 2020 promise to ratchet interest levels in what transpires later this week in Augusta, Georgia, beyond anything in the event’s storied history.

For openers, it’s being played in November and without spectators. That alone has generated considerable speculation because there is no basis for comparison on how the Augusta National course will play compared to April.

Course condition, however, is just the tip of the iceberg on fascinating story lines. Tiger Woods, his game clearly in decline, will probably be the defending champ at the Masters for the last time. Does he have one last gasp to unleash in his favorite tournament?

Bulked up Bryson DeChambeau, meanwhile, is threatening to make Augusta National somewhat obsolete with his prodigious length off the tee. In a recent practice round, 7-iron was the longest club DeChambeau required on a par 5. He hit sand wedge into No. 1, No. 9, and No. 17, pitching wedge into No. 10 and 9 iron into 11.

But can he sink enough putts for his ridiculous length to pay off?

Then you have World No. 1 Dustin Johnson peaking, after a recent victory and a second in Houston. Brooks Koepka is rounding into form after a T5 in Houston. Justin Thomas has been impressive in the fall. Rory McIlory is still looking to win for the first time at Augusta. Jon Rahm has a game built for this golf course.

Will one of those five be wearing a green jacket come Sunday afternoon?

The intrigue doesn’t stop with those guys, either. Trumping everything may be the weather.

Although temperatures in Augusta are going to range from the low 60s to the high 70s, rain is forecast every day, peaking at 90 percent Thursday.

That’s really bad news for Tiger and a back that will stiffen up during delays. There will be mud balls.

Last but certainly not least from a Southeast Texas standpoint is Port Neches-Groves ex Andrew Landry getting his second shot in the Masters. After being the first player to tee off in the 2019 tourney, Andrew acquitted himself well with rounds of 72-73-74-70 to finish T46 at even par 288.

Coming off a missed cut in Houston, Landry may be even more excited about the Masters than last year.

“It will always be a big deal to me,” he said. “It will have a different feel because of COVID, but the place is just so special. And I got a feel for how quiet it’s going to be last year when I played a late practice round alone on Sunday. Tiger and I were the only two players on the course. When I was putting out on 18, he was putting out on 9.”

Oh, yes, there’s one other thing stamping the 84th Masters as being unlike any other. ESPN’s popular football show, College Game Day, will be originating from the Par 3 course at Augusta National Saturday morning.

CHIP SHOTS

Aces were wild at Babe Zaharias on Friday and Saturday, with Marc Osborne of Nederland, Jason Ferguson of Port Neches and Bob Luttrull of Beaumont all scoring a hole in one.

Osborne got the run on aces started by sinking a 9-iron from 130 yards on No. 2 for his second ace. Witnesses were Ronnie LaSalle, Rick Pritchett and Frank LeBlanc. …

Ferguson sank his tee shot from 125 yards on the 7th hole Friday with a pitching wedge. Gary Geoffroy and Larry Johnson were his playing companions . . .

Luttrull dropped a pitching wedge from 108 yards Saturday on the 15th hole. Mike Smith and Elly Luttrull were the witnesses. …

Lamar ex Dawie van der Walt rewarded those who provided him a sponsor exemption into the Houston Open with a strong showing. Van der Walt, who plays full time on the Korn Ferry Tour, shot rounds of 70-66-69-71 to finish T20 and collect $82,000. …

Carlos Ortiz’s victory in the Houston Open made him only the third Mexican to win a PGA Tour event. It’s noteworthy in this space because the first Mexican to win on the PGA Tour was my Lamar University roommate, Cesar Sanudo. Cesar became the first-ever Mexican to hoist a PGA Trophy in the 1970 Azalea Open. …

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, there was a tie on the front at minus 4 between the team of Kenny Robbins, Roddy Richards, Rufus Reyes and Bob Kimball and the foursome of James Vercher, Jeff Rinehart, Tony Trevino and Paul Duplantis. Reyes’ best ever round was a key for his team.

On the back, the team of LaSalle, Dwayne Morvant, Jerry May and Larry Foster prevailed with minus-3. …

The Super Saturday 2-ball at Zaharias saw the team of Mike Brown, Rusty Hicks, Scott Bryant and Jay Hampson score a sweep. They were minus-3 on the front and minus-5 on the back. …

In the Friday 2-ball, the team of Jimmy Cady, Tony Trevino, Roy Martinez and Dan Flood won the front with minus-6. Robbins, Raymond Darbonne, Robert Stansbury and Duplantis took the back with minus-2. …

All-points-count was the format for the Wednesday Babe Zaharias DogFight. The team of Earl Richard, Luttrell, Art Turner and a ghost player placed first with 31 points. There was a tie for second at 24 between teams captained by Calvin Landry and Robbins.

Closest to the pin winners were Stansbury (No. 2, 4 feet, 8 inches), Cap Hollier (No. 7, 5-2), Gary Fontenot (No. 15, 15-7) and Ed Holley (No. 15, 3-6). …

 

Golf news should be submitted to rdwest@usa.net.