There should be no asterisk on this year’s Masters


(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Dustin Johnson, left, walks with Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, to the 15th green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

Sports and the COVID-19 pandemic have one thing in common. The asterisk. 

No fans, cardboard cutouts, shortened-seasons, canceled and postponed games, players on the “COVID-19” list and so much more have become the norm in the 2020 sports scene. As a result, many have suggested that those teams and players who won a championship during the pandemic should have an asterisk next to their title. Professional golf is no different.

Golf’s most popular tournament, the Masters, is typically held in the first or second week of April. This year, it was postponed for six months and will occur this weekend. It has been 18 months since someone has donned the Green Jacket.

Usually, competitors in the Professional Golf Association are preparing to put their clubs away for an eight-week offseason during this time of year. Instead, the likes of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are walking the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club for the 84th edition of the Masters.

With the tournament being played in the fall rather than the spring, with no fans and fewer players, some have implied that winning the Masters this year means less than in years past. That’s not true. Here’s why:

This is the most challenging year to win the tournament for three reasons. 

First, most of the prominent golfers have played sparsely since the U.S. Open, which took place seven weeks ago. I am no golf expert but getting in a rhythm seems to be a key to success. 

Take Johnson, for example. From Aug. 20 – Sept. 4, Johnson won the Northern Trust and Tour Championship to secure the FedEx Cup. Since July 3o, Johnson has not finished lower than 12th in an event. However, Johnson has only played once since the U.S. Open, which was last weekend at the Vivint Houston Open.

Second, Augusta National, no matter the time of year, is still one of the most challenging courses in the country. The course will not play any more forgivingly just because the players are teeing off in late fall. 

Third, it is still the Masters. The playing field is extremely competitive and each golfer is undoubtedly on his best game. Since 2008, the winner has only finished with a score lower than -5 once. Furthermore, a score lower than -5 has only happened twice since 1990. 

Instead of worrying about whether this year’s champion should be held to a lesser standard than the past winners, let’s enjoy the fact that Augusta will even get to present a Green Jacket this year.

The Masters is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I plan on taking in the sights and sounds of the tournament from Thursday through Sunday, not letting the difference between playing dates affect the value of the win. 

Neither should you. History will be made this weekend. Enjoy it!