The Masters has a new place in the schedule for 2020, with this year’s contest at Augusta National set to be like no other.
The tournament traditionally marks the start of the men’s major schedule but had to be postponed in its usual April spot due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the event pushed back to be played in November for the first time.
This year’s event is the third and final major of a condensed 2020 schedule and the first of two editions of the Masters over the next five months, with the tournament having a different look and feel to what you may have been used to in previous editions.
Here’s a look at six ways the 2020 Masters will be different…
A decision was made back in August that no patrons or guests will be able to attend this year’s contest due to coronavirus, the first time in history the event has been played behind closed doors.
It means all three majors in 2020 will have taken place without crowds, with the PGA Championship and US Open also spectator-free over the summer because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fans only returned to the PGA Tour for the first time since golf’s coronavirus-enforced stoppage in the past two events, with the Bermuda Championship allowing 500 spectators a day and last week’s Houston Open having 2,000 people per round.
No last-minute entries
Players can normally qualify for The Masters right up until the Sunday before the tournament, with all winners on the PGA Tour during that season usually securing a spot in the major, but this year’s field was set based on the event going ahead on its original April date.
Only those inside the world’s top 50 when the world rankings were frozen on March 17 or players already holding an invite on that date will be eligible to tee it up in the 2020 contest, with winners on the PGA Tour since the resumption in June qualifying for the 2021 Masters instead.
World No 13 Daniel Berger, world No 23 Viktor Hovland and world No 35 Harris English are among those who won’t get to tee it up this year but will in the field for next year’s contest instead.
No Par 3 contest
For just the second time in Masters history, the traditional Par 3 contest won’t be taking place the Wednesday before the tournament. The contest is usually held on a nine-hole, par-27 course within the grounds of Augusta National and often sees family and friends out with the players.
The Masters – Live
November 12, 2020, 12:30pm
The only previous occasion the tournament hasn’t taken place since its inception was in 2017, when storms forced the course to be closed and the event to be cancelled.
No player has ever won the Par 3 contest and the Masters in the same calendar year, with Matt Wallace remaining defending champion after his play-off victory over Sandy Lyle in 2019.
No late nights!
The new spot in the calendar and the subsequent limited daylight in Georgia means the action isn’t going to run into the small hours like previous years, with play expected to conclude between 10pm and 10.30pm UK time over the first two rounds and even earlier over the weekend.
Start times for the final day have been brought forward for the second year running, although the changes for 2020 are due to American TV schedule clashes rather than the threat of bad weather.
American host broadcaster CBS will be showing College Football after the third round and plan to be off-air by 8pm UK time on the final day, enabling them to cover the late afternoon NFL matches as planned. However, with weather forecasts showing storms during the week, the schedule could change.
No one-tee start
Another impact of this year’s contest being in November is the time available to get each round completed, with around two and a half hours less daylight in Georgia than when the event is in April.
To try and get players done before darkness and avoid a round spilling over into the following day, the first two rounds will be played under a two-tee start and see groups going off – in two waves – from off the 1st and 10th tees.
The Masters – Live
November 12, 2020, 6:00pm
The play is to return to a one-tee start for the final two rounds, although that is subject to change if there are any delays during the early part of the week.
No 10-shot rule
Players who were previously within 10 strokes of the lead after 36 holes would qualify for the weekend, regardless of their leaderboard position, but that ruling has been scrapped for 2020.
Beginning with the 2020 Masters Tournament, the low 50 players and ties will qualify for the final 36 holes. This is the first change to the cut since 2013.
Only the top-50 and ties after the first two rounds will progress to the final 36 holes, with the change the first made to the cut at the Masters since it increased from 44 players to 50 players in 2013.
The change follows a record 65 players making the cut in last year’s contest, with the decision helping to get play completed over the weekend in a shorter daylight window.
Watch The Masters this November live on Sky Sports, with all four rounds exclusively live on Sky Sports’ Masters channel. Live coverage beings with Featured Groups from 12.30pm on Thursday November 12.
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