Good afternoon, and welcome to our coverage of the first day’s play from the 2021 Masters at Augusta National, Georgia. If it seems like the last tournament here was only a few months ago, then that is because it was – it was postponed and eventually took place in November, with Dustin Johnson the eventual winner. He is again favourite to take the Green Jacket, but if he does not, then on whose shoulders might he be placing it on Sunday evening?
Alongside him are a host of the usual suspects: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and, of course, the big hitting Bryson DeChambeau.
Our Golf Correspondent, James Corrigan, says that whoever triumphs this week will have conquered the “genuine Augusta”, different to the conditions that the field faced in mid-November, 2020.
As the governing bodies prepare to rein in the boom squad — the likes of
Bryson DeChambeau who, with their 350-yard plus carries, are threatening to reduce Amen Corner to a few “Hail Marys” — Mother Nature has stepped up to the plate to ensure it will rather more intriguing than the drive, wedge and putt that typified Johnson’s glory in November.
No disrespect to the world No 1 — and it is eminently possible that he becomes just the fourth in history after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Sir Nick Faldo to defend their Masters title successfully — but whoever prevails on Sunday will have conquered the genuine Augusta.
“The fact that Dustin was 20-under was a combination of his extraordinary play and that at the same time, admittedly, the golf course was soft,” Fred Ridley, the Augusta chairman said. “But that really had nothing to do with the way the course is playing right now. We have had ideal weather and this is the first year probably going back to 2013, when we actually came into the week with the course playing firm and fast, as it is right now. We have it right where we want it.”
Play is about to get under way and we will have rolling updates throughout the first day’s action and, of course, the following three. One of sport’s greatest competitions is back where it belongs.