Nicklaus & Player first up followed by three-balls off two tees

Bernie McGuire

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus at the First Tee ceremony at the Masters. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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The legendary duo of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have been confirmed as Honorary Starters for the 84th hosting of the next fortnight’s rescheduled Masters.

Fred Ridley, Chairman at Augusta National, confirmed the news along with announcing that the Masters will adopt a two-tee, three-ball start over the opening two rounds, no doubt, reacting to fears surrounding the near three hours less daylight in November compared to April.

It was in 2012 when Player joined Nicklaus and the late Arnold Palmer as Honorary Starters but with the passing of Palmer, on the Sunday prior the 2016 Ryder Cup, it has been Player and Nicklaus since 2017 hitting the first tee shots at Augusta. However, this year will be very strange without patrons present.

Augusta revealed also there will be a two-tee start, with groups of three, from both the 1st and 10th tees for the opening two rounds. A field of 96 players is set to tee-up on November 12th but at a time of year when there is some two-and-a-half hours less daylight a day than when the Masters is normally staged in April when there’s around 13 hours of daylight.  Over the four days of this year’s pandemic-affected Masters, it will mean Augusta organisers officially staring at 17 minutes less than 10 hours less daylight hours.

Who knows what will happen if there’s a play-off as U.S., host broadcaster, CBS is also committed to an NFL game at 4pm local time Sunday on the final day of the Masters. And despite a worldwide pandemic, Augusta will stick with the annual Champions Dinner on the Tuesday night of the Masters as Tiger Woods confirmed last week at the ZoZo Championship.

However, it is not known if all living past Masters winners will be able to travel to Augusta for the dinner that was first hosted in 1952 by Ben Hogan.

“We’re not going to have it upstairs [in the clubhouse],” Woods explained. “I think we’re going to have it downstairs where there’s more room so we can all be socially distant.”

Woods also indicated the group sitting down to dinner will be much smaller in number: “I think we’re not going to get a lot of the past champions coming because obviously they’re at the at-risk age,” said Woods. “This is unlike any times we’ve ever had in the past, so we’ve got to do what we can do to obviously have the traditions that we’d like to have but also maintain safety guidelines.”

The five-time green jacket winner said that his planned menu remains as it was prior to the postponement: steak and chicken fajitas, sushi and sashimi, along with milkshakes for dessert.


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