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84th Masters Will Have No Spectators Because Of Coronavirus Protocols

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. One of golf's most famous tournaments begins today, the 84th masters in Augusta, Ga.

WRIGHT THOMPSON: For golfers, I mean, it's Carnegie Hall. Getting there is difficult. Forget doing well there or winning.

GREENE: That's ESPN's Wright Thompson there. He has been writing about the Masters for 17 years, but he's never seen one like this.

NOEL KING, HOST:

It was moved from the spring to November because of the pandemic. And no one will be watching this year along the fairways.

THOMPSON: It's going to be incredibly different. The huge roars that echo around that golf course, especially on Sunday when the tournament is coming down to the wire, those roars are as much a part of the lore of the tournament as any shot anyone hits.

KING: So who is interesting this year?

THOMPSON: Everybody's really excited about Bryson DeChambeau just because, you know, he's booming the ball off of the tee much in the way that Tiger Woods did when he was coming up '96, '97. And so that brings me to Tiger. I mean, even though he's not having a good season, he is the defending champion. He is the greatest golfer of this generation.

GREENE: At 44 years old, Tiger Woods knows Augusta really well. He has won there five times. Twenty-seven-year-old Bryson DeChambeau comes in with confidence, though. He just won the U.S. Open in September. Thompson says DeChambeau shares a lot in common with Tiger Woods.

THOMPSON: Like Tiger when Tiger was young, he is hitting the ball so far that it is rendering the golf courses defenseless. I mean, golf courses are designed around these ideas of risk and reward and to force golfers to make decisions. And what Tiger started doing is he just started hitting the ball over all of the decisions. Golf courses have been extended and lengthened, and they called it Tiger-proofing (ph). And all these years later, a new golfer's coming along and now is demolishing the supposedly Tiger-proofed golf courses.

KING: That's Wright Thompson - he wrote the book "Pappyland" - talking to us on the morning the Masters starts.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MATTSON 2'S "ISELA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.