07/11/2020
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2020 ATG Masters Tournament
BillS
The 2020 ATG Master Tournament will take place this week. This year's tournament features a time-travel element, as the golfers have been transported to the year 2015 and have invited that year's tournament winner, Jordan Spieth, to play. The field of golfers is slightly smaller this year (33) as compared to prior years' tournaments (40-45), likely due to COVID-19 travel concerns (yes, even time travel) among the golfers. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that scoring will be up this year, as Augusta in 2015 was more forgivable (but still challenging) than the ATG course these golfers are used to.

All of the past champions will play, including 2-time winner Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, and defending champion Seve Ballesteros. Other notables playing are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and tournament creator Bobby Jones. Thanks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's stay in place advisory, I will have more time to play this tournament. It should be completed tomorrow, as I intend to post two rounds of results today and two tomorrow.
 
BillS
HAGEN TAKES EARLY LEAD

Walter Hagen grabbed the lead early with an eagle on the par 5 second hole, propelling him to a -4, 68 for the round and a 1-shot lead over Payne Stewart after the opening round. Stewart made a strong, steady showing in what is his best start of the tournament in 6 years. A brisk wind made driving a bit of an adventure, as Greg Norman (+4, 76) and Ernie Els (+4, 76) would discover. The leader board, as is usually the case after the first day of this tournament, is tight, with 12 golfers within at least 3 strokes of Hagen. For his part, the youngster Jordan Spieth showed some signs of the nerves and pressure he must have been feeling amongst the all-time greats, as he found trouble all over the course. He managed that trouble well, however, finishing with a -1, 71 on the day. And, Ken Venturi, a perennial quick starter and bad finisher in this tournament, go off to another good start, ending the day at -2, 70.

The leader board, including only golfers finishing under par, is as follows:

Walter Hagen -4
Payne Stewart -3
Lee Trevino -2
Fuzzy Zoeller -2
Ken Venturi -2
Vijay Singh* -2
Gary Player* -2
Tom Weiskopf -1
Jack Nicklaus -1
Phil Mickelson -1
Tiger Woods* -1
Johnny Miller -1
Jordan Spieth -1

*denotes past champion

Nine other golfers finished the day at even par. After the second round, the field will be cut to not more than 25. With his +4 first round, Greg Norman is likely not to make the cut. He is the only past champion in danger of such ignominy (Seve Ballesteros finished at even par).
 
BillS
HAGEN MAINTAINS LEAD; PALMER SURGES

Walter Hagen maintains a 1-stroke lead after the first two rounds of the 2020 ATG Masters. Hagen had a decent round of -2, 70 to increase his score to -6 for the tournament. But it was Arnold Palmer who had the best round of the day, coming in at -5, 67 for the day on the strength of a powerful and accurate day off the tees. Palmer now sits 1 stroke back from the lead at -5. He is joined at -5 by Fuzzy Zoeller, who had a very good -3, 69 for the day.

Payne Stewart had a tough day off the tees, scoring a +3, 75 for the round, dropping him to even par for the tournament. Another golfer having a rough day was Tom Watson, whose troublesome +5, 77 round ensured that he would not make the cut this year.

Young Jordan Spieth continued to impress, as he turned in his second under-par round at -1/ 71, putting him in contention at -2 for the tournament.

The leader board after the first two rounds is as follows:

Walter Hagen -6
Fuzzy Zoeller -5
Arnold Palmer -5
Lee Trevino -4
Ken Venturi -4
Gene Sarazen -4
Gary Player* -3
Vijay Singh* -2
Tom Weiskopf -2
Johnny Miller -2
Jordan Spieth -2
Seve Ballesteros* -2
Ben Hogan -2

Obviously, with a leader board that tightly packed, it remains anybody's tournament to win, except for the 8 golfers who failed to make the cut of +1, 145 after two rounds. Among the notables in the cut group were former champion Greg Norman, Tom Watson, and fan-favorite John Daly.

Two-time champion Tiger Woods is lurking at -1 and is capable of a quick move up the leader board. Jack Nicklaus, who has had his problems in this tournament, made the cut, but is floundering at even par. Tournament founder Bobby Jones is also at even par.

The twenty-five golfers remaining will hit the tees today for the third round.
 
BillS
HAGEN AND PALMER SEPARATE FROM THE PACK

After 3 rounds of the 2020 ATG Masters Tournament, Walter Hagen and Arnold Palmer have slightly separated themselves from the otherwise crowded field. Hagen had another solid day, shooting a -3, 69 to add to his tournament leading score of -9. For his part, Palmer kept pace with his own 69 to stay one stroke behind Hagen at -8.

Fuzzy Zoeller started the day in a tie for second place, but today faltered badly off the fairways. Zoeller's fairway shots missed the green more often than not today, resulting in a round-worst +3, 75, dropping him to -2 for the tournament. Lee Trevino also faltered, but for the Merry Mex it was his putter that gave fits. Trevino finished the day with an even-par round, maintaining his score of -4 but falling further behind the leaders. Former champion Gary Player had a quiet, but good day, coming in at -2, 70 to move into third place at -5.

Generally, it was a quiet day at Augusta. There were no large scoring swings one way or the other, although Palmer and Hagen were now 3 and 4 strokes, respectively, ahead of the remainder of the field.

The leader board looks like this:

Walter Hagen -9
Arnold Palmer -8
Gary Player* -5
Lee Trevino -4
Ken Venturi -4
Gene Sarazen -4
Vijay Singh* -4
Jordan Spieth -4
Seve Ballesteros -4
Ben Hogan -4

Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson are mired in mediocrity at -2. However, the weather report is calling for ideal conditions and the final round will have the most favorable pin placements of the tournament, so stay tuned for tomorrow's final round!
 
BillS
A FINAL ROUND FOR THE AGES!!!

In a final round that some have likened to the miracle at the 1980 Winter Olympics, an iron-willed youth emerged from the pack to capture the 2020 ATG Masters championship. Coming into today, Jordan Spieth had made an impressive showing, staying in the hunt 5 strokes back at -4. Many of the all-time greats commented on the youngster's poise. They assumed he felt pressure. They were wrong.

Swinging his clubs like a man with nothing to lose, Spieth dominated the course today, setting an Augusta course record with a -11, 61 round!! He was particular deadly on the Par 4 holes, scoring birdies on 7 out of 10. Couple those scores with a couple of birds on Par 3 and an impressive eagle on the 13th Hole and you have the makings of a record-setting day. Spieth finished the tournament with a 3-stroke victory at -15.

During the round, other golfers could clearly see the kind of day Spieth was having. Particularly for those playing behind Spieth, the spectacle was unnerving. Spieth's playing partner for the day, Vijay Singh, was clearly intimidated, as he finished the round with a +1, 73. Arnold Palmer, clearly watching the leaderboard from his position three groups back, also felt the pressure and dropped several strokes on those same Par 4 holes Spieth was dominating. Palmer fell out of contention also with a disappointing +1, 73. Walter Hagen, the tournament leader for the first three days, had a decent, but uninspired round of -2, 70. Only Gene Sarazen seemed to feel inspired by Spieth's performance. Sarazen himself put up a monster performance on this final day, shooting a -8, 64 thanks to some tremendous putting. On any other day, that score would have propelled Sarazen to the crown.

The Final Leaderboard reads as follows:

Jordan Spieth -15
Gene Sarazen -12
Walter Hagen -11
Seve Ballesteros* -8
Bobby Jones -8
Arnold Palmer -7
Gary Player* -7
Johnny Miller -7
Ben Hogan -6
Byron Nelson -6
Tiger Woods* -6
Jose-Maria Olazabal -5
Fuzzy Zoeller -5
Jack Nicklaus -5
Lee Trevino -4
Billy Casper -4
Gene Littler -4
Ken Venturi -3
Vijay Singh* -3
Phil Mickelson -3
Fred Couples -3
Payne Stewart E
Chi Chi Rodriguez E
Lanny Wadkins +1
Tom Weiskopf +3

*denotes past champion

It was the best scoring round of any of my previous ATG Masters Tournaments, with 20 of the 25 golfers shooting at least even-par. Three of the five who shot over par were the tournament leaders playing with or behind Spieth.

Not sure what the next ATG tournament will be. The ATG Open Championship (Jack Nicklaus defending champ) is several months away, but it is likely there will be another event in the meantime. Probably a 2020 ATG US Open or 2020 ATG PGA Championship.
 
Barnz
Try Sawgrass! it's a fun and challenging Course (especially 17)
 
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