Tiger Woods has been very candid in recent months about his struggles to adapt to a spectator-free golf tournament. He has acknowledged his spectator-free Masters defence will constitute a “very different” experience, with the 2019 champion endorsing Augusta National’s decision to go ahead with the event minus the galleries.
It seems there is just no way to replicate the feeling of a large-scale Tour event. Woods said that he’s used to deriving his own energy from the feeling in the crowd. “Always have,” he said. “I’ve played in front of thousands of people ever since I turned pro 24 years ago.
Woods allowed that there are some perks; it’s an undeniably easier existence this way. Practice rounds in particular have been a breeze. “It’s always been odd when I haven’t played in front of people, and you know, in one way, it’s been nice between tees not getting tapped or getting a glove pulled out of my pocket.
Those are things I’ve had to deal with for a very long time”. “You hit good shots and you get on nice little runs, we don’t have the same energy, the same fan energy,” he said. “It is different”.
“Absolutely,” Woods said. “Anyone who has played in front of thousands of people, it is very different. Usually between 20,000 and 40,000 people screaming and yelling. That’s always been one of the things I’ve become accustomed to; the guys who played with me, who haven’t become accustomed to it, they have only experienced one round here and there; that’s been every round I’ve played for over two decades.
“That advantage, for me and some of the other top players that have been out here for a while who have experienced it, trying to deal with all that noise and the movement, that experience is no longer there. “Also, I think that’s one of the reasons why you’re seeing more lower scores now,” he added, just two days removed from Scottie Scheffler shooting 59 and Dustin Johnson shooting 60 on the same day.
“You don’t have the same type of energy. Guys aren’t shooting as high of rounds as they normally would”. “Augusta will be very different,” said Woods. “When I first went there and had a chance to play in 1995, seeing it with no fans, it was eye-opening how much room there is.
When you put 40,000 people on such a small piece of property, I know there’s no rough, but it gets confined. But this will be very different. This will be a fun Masters and I’m looking forward to defending”.
Woods does not, therefore, endorse the notion that Augusta should have followed the lead of the R&A, which postponed this year’s Open Championship because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “As far as them making the decision to play and have the event with no fans, that’s what we’re doing right now with the Tour,” the 15-times major champion said.
“So that’s just a continuation of what we’ve had. We’ve been very fortunate to have had no real big incidents and outbreaks out here. We’ve had guys that have followed the isolation and have quarantined themselves and have got back out here effectively.
So there’s no reason we can’t have the Masters”. The Masters, originally scheduled for April, will take place from 12 November. In keeping with the PGA Tour’s post-lockdown scene, crowds will not be permitted.