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Without Tiger Woods, the 2021 Masters rankings are wide open


“I wouldn’t be surprised to go forward if you end up having a first winner at some point or a number of young guys who are able to do it,” Spieth said last week.

Spieth said Augusta National’s extremely hilly terrain, a feature hard to understand when watching the event on TV, could be of particular benefit to younger players.

“Honestly it’s a tough walk, it’s one of the toughest walks on the tour,” Spieth said of Augusta National. “Physically, it can take its toll. So you would think guys who are in their mid-twenties would be in the best physical position.

Other lesser-known names within the youth golf movement may have escaped the attention of casual golf enthusiasts, but are nonetheless worthy contenders this week. Foremost in that group is Sungjae Im, 23, of South Korea, who was the 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2019 and tied for second on his Masters debut last year. No Asian has won the Masters, although that hasn’t stopped Im from dreaming of a Korean-style menu that will be served at the annual Champions Dinner the year after winning.

“Marinated ribs, of course,” he said in November with a smile.

There are few black players in the realm of this year’s Masters, although Tony Finau, who tied for fifth in 2019 and is the 13th golfer in the world, is among the title contenders. Vijay Singh, the 2000 Masters champion, is also in competition.

Change, like the passing of a torch from generation to generation, is in the air at the Masters despite the tournament’s reputation for its centuries-old traditions. And golf fans may already be warming up to the metamorphosis taking place at the top of the rankings.

With viewership numbers declining for other sports lately, ratings for PGA Tour events this year have increased by 10-20%, and some in golf attribute this to the rise in popularity of this. Longtime CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz called New Squad.



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