No Augusta roars for Tiger and Co at Masters

Huge crowds were on hand to cheer Tiger Woods as he celebrated last year's Masters win. Fans will be barred from this year's delayed edition in November due to Covid-19.
Huge crowds were on hand to cheer Tiger Woods as he celebrated last year's Masters win. Fans will be barred from this year's delayed edition in November due to Covid-19.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • The Augusta National Golf Club announced on Wednesday that this year's Masters, postponed from its traditional April date to Nov 12-15, will be held without patrons or guests in attendance.

The decision was made because of the coronavirus pandemic and came after an earlier decision by the PGA Tour to bar fans for the remainder of the season.

Few other golf tournaments have a widely known phrase to describe the fan presence, but the "Augusta roars" - the resounding crowd response that echoes around the course - have become synonymous with the Masters perhaps as much as its blooming azaleas.

However, there will not be a gallery when 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods tees off the defence of his Masters title.

Augusta's decision - the last of the Majors to say it would proceed without spectators - could signal that will be the norm even into next season.

The first two events of next season, the Safeway Open and Sanderson Farms Championship, have already announced that they will not have fans on site during their September and October dates.

"Throughout this process, we have consulted health officials and a variety of subject matter experts," said Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National.

"Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome.

"Even in the current circumstances, staging the Masters without patrons is deeply disappointing.

"The guests who come to Augusta each spring from around the world are a key component to making the tournament so special.

"Augusta has the responsibility, however, to understand and accept the challenges associated with this virus and take the necessary precautions to conduct all aspects of the tournament in a safe manner."

Separately, 12-time PGA Tour winner Zach Johnson, who is known for his gracious demeanour and good sportsmanship, was named the recipient of this year's Payne Stewart Award on Wednesday.

The honour is given annually to a player sharing the late Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game and his commitment to uphold golf's heritage of charitable support.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2020, with the headline 'No Augusta roars for Tiger and Co at Masters'. Print Edition | Subscribe