Could an unusual Masters produce an unlikely winner?
It feels bizarre to be talking about The Masters in November, but from the images I have seen Augusta still looks magnificent.
All eyes are on two players heading into this week – Bryson DeChambeau and defending champion Tiger Woods.
That will help players such as Rory McIlroy, who is normally the player under pressure as he attempts to complete the final leg of the career Grand Slam.
He will enjoy flying under the radar as much as a player of his calibre can.
Shane Lowry is a player to watch out for this week. He likes to move the ball right to left and is a good chipper from tight lies, which is key at Augusta.
He has proven before that he can win in America with his success at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in 2015.
He could be a sleeper pick as he doesn’t have the track record at Augusta, even though he is a major champion.
Tiger isn’t going into the event in the best of form, but he knows Augusta better than anyone else.
He feels comfortable at Augusta and he knows how to put a score together. Write him off at your peril.
It is a very open field and it doesn’t feel like there is an overwhelming favourite.
There are some PGA Tour players in the field who some golf fans aren’t too aware of, but with the ability to do well around there, especially when the packed galleries that can favour the more experienced names aren’t there.
We won’t have those loud roars on a Sunday afternoon which will help certain players.
A player like Tiger would feed off that noise by getting the crowd right behind them.
Those roars and noisy atmosphere could be intimidating for a Masters rookie so that is one challenge they won’t have to overcome this week.
But experience counts for a lot at Augusta.
Louis Oosthuizen has been in the mix a few times in the past and could be a threat again.
It will be intriguing to see the approach DeChambeau takes.
The course favours aggressive, big-hitting players. It can be just as much of a risk to play it safe.
That is because the greens are built in sections and if you are coming in with a 5-iron it is a lot harder to hit the right section than it would be with a 9-iron.
The 13th hole is the best example.
Most players normally have to try to move the ball around the corner, which is the first challenge. The second shot is a long iron or hybrid off a dramatic right-to-left slope. It forces you to aim at the water, but the fear is you overcompensate and end up in the flowers on the left.
It becomes a mental challenge, but Bryson might be able to avoid all of that if he is able to fly it straight over the trees. The reward would be an easier shot off a flat lie.
Instead of hitting a high-tariff second shot, he could be going at the pin with a 7-iron.
It’s much easier and certainly not how the hole was designed to be played.
Whoever emerges victorious, it is sure to be a riveting watch.
And the great thing is we won’t need to wait long with the 2021 Masters set to be back in its usual place this April.
Great for Scottish golf to have rising star Robert MacIntyre flying the flag
It was fantastic to see Robert MacIntyre claim his maiden victory on the European Tour at the Cyprus Showdown.
It will give him a lot of confidence and hopefully he can keep the momentum going over the last few weeks of the year and break into the top 50 which would open up a huge amount of opportunities for 2021.
He spoke afterwards about how tough 2020 has been for him, particularly during lockdown, so it is great to see him rewarded with the win.
He will take a huge amount of confidence from the victory and it is great for Scottish golf to have someone flying the flag for us.
England have had a lot of good young players and there is no doubt that helps breed the next generation.
Hopefully Robert’s success will inspire some other young Scottish golfers to believe they can also become European Tour winners.
He has been a remarkably consistent player. It was his 45th start on the European Tour and he has made the cut on 38 occasions.
Robert has a very well-rounded game without any real weakness.
It probably helps that there are quite a few young Scottish players on tour just now as it must feel almost like a team environment.
Hopefully this victory is the first of many for the left-hander from Oban.