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  • In change of heart, Casey will play at Saudi Invitational
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 28, 2020

    Nearly two years after publicly questioning human rights practices in Saudi Arabia, Paul Casey has decided to play in the 2021 Saudi Invitational alongside some of the biggest names in golf.

    • Players already committed to next year's event include Masters champion Dustin Johnson and U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau. Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Henrik Stenson also are scheduled to play, according to GOLF.com.

      "This is not a decision I've taken lightly," Casey said in a statement reported by Golf Channel as he expressed his desire to play in the next Saudi Invitational. "I wasn't comfortable going in the past, but I have always been open-minded and willing to learn.

      "I believe sport has the power to affect change. I've listened to the Saudi commitment to this and their vision for the future. It is always better to include rather than exclude when eliciting change."

      As the 2019 Saudi Invitational approached, the Saudi government was awash in criticism after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy declined an invitation to the inaugural event. Casey, a native of England, turned down a chance to play as well.

      "There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go, which you could question ... some human rights violations that governments have committed," Casey said at the time. "I thought I'd sit this one out."

      A hopeful for the European team at the 2021 Ryder Cup, Casey is just 47th in points to qualify. A strong showing at a competitive Saudi Invitational would help his Ryder Cup cause.

      Casey, 43, is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and a 14-time winner on the European Tour. He tied for second at the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dustin Johnson withdraws from Mayakoba Golf Classic
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 28, 2020

    Masters champion Dustin Johnson has decided to extend his break by withdrawing from next week's Mayakoba Golf Classic.

    • "I have heard nothing but great things about the tournament, golf course and the Mayakoba resort, so I was excited to play," Johnson said in a statement distributed by the event. "However, my mind and body are telling me it's time for a break, so I look forward to spending some much-needed time at home with Paulina and the boys.

      "I know this is disappointing news and I sincerely apologize to all my friends involved with the tournament."

      Johnson has not played since his victory at Augusta National two weeks ago and the Mayakoba Golf Classic is the final event on the 2020 PGA Tour calendar. His next event is likely to be the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January.

      With Johnson's withdrawal, the top-ranked player in next week's field is No. 3 Justin Thomas. Other notables include Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA, European Tour deal may lead to world golf tour
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 27, 2020

    The PGA Tour and European Tour announced a "strategic alliance" on Friday that will see the two collaborate on global scheduling and could be the first step toward establishing a world golf tour.

    • The announcement served as a significant blow to the Premier Golf League, the vision of a private group seeking to establish a circuit of events featuring the top players in the world. The European Tour turned down a "very compelling offer" from the PGL, according to chief executive Keith Pelley.

      Top players including Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm said earlier this year that they were not interested in moving to the PGL.

      As part of the alliance announced Friday, the PGA Tour will acquire a minority stake in European Tour Productions (ETP), the tour's media arm. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monehan will also join the 15-member board for the European Tour.

      "Today's announcement is the formalization of a closer working relationship between the Tours in recent years," Pelley said. "It was one which was crystallized earlier this year when both Jay and I were part of the working group containing representatives of the four Majors and the LPGA, a group which helped shape the remainder of the golfing calendar for 2020 during unprecedented times.

      "We shared the challenges of working through a year neither of us could have ever imagined and we found definite synergies in many areas of our respective Tours. That gave us the impetus to move forward together and arrive at this momentous announcement we are making today."

      The tours will work together in areas including global scheduling, prize funds and playing opportunities for the respective memberships.

      While many see this as the first major step toward a world golf tour, Pelley said this "is a partnership and not a merger" and denied that the European Tour is experiencing major financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.

      "Emphatically, this is not a merger," Pelley said, per The Telegraph. "I read one tweet (since the announcement) that said a takeover is inevitable because of the situation that we are in. We are categorically not in financial difficulties, that is simply wrong."

      "This is great for European golf and I believe that we will look back at this day and look back at this partnership as something that has changed global golf."

      England's Ian Poulter was among the prominent players to applaud Friday's announcement.

      "Great news for @PGATOUR and @EuropeanTour making an announcement this morning and strengthening the playing opportunities and commercial rights for both Tours," he tweeted

      --Field Level Media

  • What's greater: Barkley off the tee, or Auburn's ground game?
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 26, 2020

    Charles Barkley had no problem roasting Tom Brady's golf game as a commentator during "The Match 2" earlier this year.

    • Now, it's "Sir Charles" who is the target as sportsbooks have generated a wide variety of prop bets around The Match III: Champions for Change on Friday.

      The competition will feature Barkley and teammate Phil Mickelson playing against Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning, who this week was named as a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

      Barkley has one distinct edge, his partner, with Mickelson Golf Properties owning the Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Ariz., where the match will be played (3 p.m. ET, TNT).

      Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in the original The Match back in 2018. Woods and Manning beat Mickelson and Brady in the sequel earlier this year, which took place during a heavy Florida rainstorm in May.

      While Woods will not be involved this time, Mickelson agreed to team with Barkley, whose golf swing was a subject on famed instructor Hank Haney's reality show "The Haney Project."

      Referring to his partner, Mickelson said Stone Canyon has "Chuck tees" that are "a little bit further up."

      "If I can hit the green, and let him putt, that's our strategy on that," Mickelson said, via Golfweek. "Same thing on the drivable par 4s. We saw what happened in Match II where we were really getting beat up pretty good and then Tom and I, on 11, I drive the green and he rolls the putt in for eagle and it just turns the whole match the other way."

      Team Curry/Manning are a -170 betting favorite by SportsBetting.com, with Team Barkley/Mickelson being offered at +140.

      But the real fun comes with the prop market, mostly focused on Barkley, who played college basketball at Auburn before going on to become a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

      Among the prop bets offered by SportsBetting.com:

      Which will be greater?

      --Distance of Barkley's opening tee shot (-150)

      --Auburn rushing yards vs. Alabama (+120)

      Which will be greater?

      --Barkley total hole-winning shots (+100)

      --Bo Nix total TDs vs. Alabama (-130)

      What will Charles Barkley say first?

      --Terrible (+100)

      --Auburn (+150)

      --Tiger (+250)

      How many side bets will be made by Barkley during match?

      --Over 6.5 / Under 6.5

      Will Charles Barkley make a putt over 10 feet?

      --Yes +220, No -300

      Will Charles Barkley hit fairway with tee shot on No. 1?

      --Yes +130, No -160

      Will Charles Barkley hit green with tee shot on No. 6?

      --Yes +200, No -250

      --Field Level Media

  • Augenstein joins Ogletree in turning pro after Masters
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 23, 2020

    The two amateurs who made the cut at the Masters earlier this month are now both pro golfers.

    • John Augenstein made his announcement Monday, three days after Andy Ogletree turned pro.

      Augenstein, who tied for 55th in Augusta, Ga., is leaving Vanderbilt as a fifth-year senior after winning Southeastern Conference player of the year honors last season. He was a 2019 U.S. Amateur finalist, losing 2 and 1 to Ogletree in the 36-hole title match.

      Augenstein wrote in a letter posted on the Vanderbilt athletics website, "I committed to head coach Scott Limbaugh and Vanderbilt when I was 16 years old while sitting in our facility at Vanderbilt Legends Club. It has been a little more than six years now since my commitment that day.

      "Today, November 23, I have decided it is time for my story at Vanderbilt to end. I will begin my professional golf career moving forward.

      "The bonds and friendships I have established at Vanderbilt are ones I will have the rest of my life. To all of my teammates and coaches, thank you for everything.

      "I could not be more fortunate to have attended Vanderbilt for the last four and a half years. Vandy Nation has supported the team and myself from the very start."

      Augenstein, 23, also competed as an amateur at the U.S. Open in September, missing the cut at 9-over-par 149 after shooting 74-75 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y. At the Masters, he shot 3-over-par 291, with his highlight being a 3-under 69 in the opening round.

      Limbaugh said in a statement: "First of all, I am very excited for John as he embarks on his new journey as a professional golfer. John's decision did not catch any of us by surprise. As he has been throughout his career, he was very transparent with all of us from the beginning that this could be a possibility. John is physically and mentally ready and prepared to start this new chapter in his life."

      Ogletree, 22, exited Georgia Tech shortly after he tied with Bryson DeChambeau, among others, for 34th at the Masters. He was the low amateur at 2-under 286 following consistent rounds of 73-70-71-72. Ogletree shot 8-over 148 while missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

      --Field Level Media

  • PGA Tour Champions 2021 schedule released
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 23, 2020

    The PGA Tour Champions calendar for 2021 features 25 events taking place in 19 states, plus Canada and England.

    • The rookie class fighting for a share of the $55 million in available prize money will include three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland (turns 50 on Aug. 31), nine-time PGA Tour winner Stuart Appleby (May 1) and four-time PGA Tour titlist Robert Allenby (July 12).

      "I'm very proud of how PGA TOUR Champions players, partners, staff and all our constituents worked together to complete a successful 2020, and I'm looking forward to carrying that momentum into 2021," said tour president Miller Brady said in a news release Monday. "We're excited to return to communities that embrace PGA TOUR Champions so our legendary players can reconnect with fans and help generate charitable dollars."

      The 2021 schedule begins with the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, Hawaii, during the week of Jan. 19-23, and concludes with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club the week of Nov. 8-14.

      Due to the circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, 14 Champions tournaments were canceled from the 2020 schedule. In an effort to uphold the competitive integrity of the Charles Schwab Cup, PGA Tour Champions combined the 2020 and 2021 seasons and formed a singular 2020-21 season with 40 tournaments -- 15 events from 2020 and 25 events in 2021.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jutanugarn sisters among 7 positive COVID-19 tests on LPGA
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 21, 2020

    A total of seven players and caddies are sidelined for the LPGA's Pelican Women's Championship this week after testing positive for COVID-19, Golfweek reported Friday.

    • The list includes Thailand-born sisters Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, who announced last week that they were withdrawing from this week's tournament in Belleair, Fla. No one has tested positive at the tournament site, according to the report.

      Per Golfweek, players will be tested again next week while the LPGA takes a break from Thanksgiving weekend, then again upon arrival in The Colony, Texas, for the Volunteers of America Classic, scheduled for Dec. 3-6.

      The LPGA reports that just 27 of the 6,200 COVID-19 tests given to players on the top tour and the second-tier Symetra Tour came up positive since play resumed in July, a positivity rate of 0.4 percent.

      Moriya Jutanugarn, quarantining at her Lake Nona, Fla., home, told Golfweek regarding her symptoms, "It feels like a really, really bad flu."

      She said she lost her sense of taste and also had a bad fever and a cough. However, Ariya Jutanugarn only experienced a headache.

      Moriya Jutanugarn said, "I should be fine, but I don't know if I'm still going to test positive (next week)."

      --Field Level Media

  • Fassi added to U.S. Women's Open field
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 20, 2020

    Maria Fassi received a spot in next month's U.S. Women's Open on Thursday when China's Shanshan Feng withdrew.

    • The final women's major of 2020 will take place Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

      "I was pretty sad honestly," Fassi told Golfweek of potentially missing the event. "For me, the U.S. Open is the one that I look forward to the most."

      Fassi said she was recently 14th on the alternate list, but she has continued to inch closer to the 156-player field with the coronavirus pandemic impacting travel schedules. The alternate list is determined by the Rolex Rankings.

      Fassi tied for 12th at last year's U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.).

      The current alternate list:

      Thailand's Pajaree Anannarukarn

      South Korea's Ju Young Pak

      South Korea's Da Been Heo

      Japan's Kana Mikashima

      South Korea's Jeong Eun Lee

      South Korea's Seo Jin Park

      South Korea's Hee-Kyung Bae

      Sweden's Linnea Strom

      South Korea's Han Sol Ji

      Thailand's Patty Tavatanakit

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger, Charlie teaming in father-son event next month
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 19, 2020

    Tiger Woods' son, Charlie, will make his PGA Tour event debut at age 11 next month.

    • Father and son are paired in the PNC Championship, to be played Dec. 19-20 in central Florida at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

      "I can't tell you how excited I am to be playing with Charlie in our first official tournament together," Woods said in a statement Thursday. "It's been great watching him progress as a junior golfer, and it will be incredible playing as a team together in the PNC Championship."

      NBC televises the event, which was the brainchild of Woods' former neighbor, IMG executive Alastair Johnston. Johnston first asked Woods to enter the field in 1996 when he turned pro, but playing with his father, Earl. Twenty three years later, Woods is in with his own son.

      Among the 20-person field of major tournament winners are Justin Thomas and his father, golf pro Mike Thomas, and Greg Norman.

      No fans are allowed at the event. Woods had previously said he was ending his year at The Masters due to the cancellation of his Dec. 3-6 Hero World Championship in the Bahamas. Woods is the host of the annual all-star event.

      --Field Level Media

  • Hickok, Norlander out of RSM Classic after positive tests
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 18, 2020

    Kramer Hickok and Henrik Norlander tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew Wednesday from this week's PGA Tour event in Georgia.

    • The RSM Classic begins Thursday at the Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside course on St. Simon's Island, Ga.

      Hickok, 28, began this month with a tie for eighth at the Bermuda Championship. He finished 53rd at last year's RSM Classic.

      "Obviously, I am very disappointed that I will not be able to play this week, as I am playing well and love the courses at Sea Island," Hickok said. "Nonetheless, I look forward to returning to The RSM Classic next year."

      Sweden's Norlander, 33, tied for fourth at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month. He tied for fifth in this event last November, finishing four strokes behind winner Tyler Duncan.

      "After noticing some symptoms last night, I was tested this morning for COVID-19 and unfortunately received the positive result," Norlander said. "While I'm disappointed to withdraw from a tournament where I've had success at in the past, I'm grateful I can drive home to Augusta (Ga.) and have next week to get healthy and be ready to compete again."

      Australia's Rhein Gibson replaces Hickok while Ryan Brehm replaces Norlander in the field.

      Bill Haas withdrew from the event Tuesday after a positive test.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kerr among 28 added to U.S. Women's Open Field
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 17, 2020

    Former champion Cristie Kerr and 2020 AIG Women's British Open winner Sophia Popov are among the notable additions to the field for next month's 75th U.S. Women's Open.

    • The USGA added 28 players Tuesday based on the Rolex Rankings.

      The 2020 season's final major is scheduled for Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston. It was originally scheduled for June before being postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

      Former U.S. Women's Open champions Michelle Wie West (2014), Paula Creamer (2010) and Na Yeon Choi (2012) did not sign up for this year's competition.

      Wie West, who gave birth to a daughter in June, told Golfweek last month she was undecided about traveling during the pandemic.

      "I just don't know if I feel comfortable traveling with (my daughter) yet," she said. "In my mind I always thought by December it's going to be safe to travel with her, but now ... I'm not quite sure."

      Kerr, the 2007 champion, qualified for her 22nd straight U.S. Women's Open. Germany's Popov, ranked No. 28 in the world, will make her second USWO start.

      Defending champion Jeongeun Lee6 is also in the 156-player field, along with prior champions In Gee Chun, Eun-Hee Ji, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brittany Lang, Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ru.

      --Field Level Media

  • Haas WDs from RSM Classic after positive test
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 17, 2020

    Golfer Bill Haas tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from this week's PGA Tour event in Georgia.

    • "It's obviously disappointing news to receive, but my focus is now on recovery and ensuring the health and well-being of my family," Haas said in a statement released Tuesday by the PGA Tour.

      The RSM Classic begins Thursday at the Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside curse on St. Simon's Island, Ga.

      Haas, 38, is in self-isolation and following CDC guidelines, according to the PGA Tour.

      A six-time winner on the PGA Tour, Haas tied for 35th at The RSM Classic last year at 8 under. Tyler Duncan is the defending champion.

      --Field Level Media

  • Solheim Cup moving to even years in 2024
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 16, 2020

    The Solheim Cup, which matches the best female golfers in the United States against the best in Europe, will move to a new biennial schedule starting in 2024.

    • Because the men's equivalent Ryder Cup was moved to odd years after this year's event was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Solheim Cup now will switch from odd years to even years.

      The 2021 and 2023 Solheim Cup events still will take place in Toledo, Ohio and Andalucia, Spain, respectively, with the 2024 edition giving the event a rare chance to be contested in back-to-back years. The 2024 competition will take place at a site in the United States that has yet to be determined.

      "With the world sporting schedule changing so much due to current difficulties, we felt it was in the best interest of the Solheim Cup to return to an off-year rotation with the Ryder Cup," Solheim Cup executive director Dennis Baggett said. "When the competition returns to the United States in 2024, I have no doubt fans will have an incredible opportunity to celebrate the best women golfers from the United States and Europe as they represent their home countries."

      It is not the first time the Solheim Cup has adjusted to the Ryder Cup schedule. After the 2001 Ryder Cup was postponed one year because of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Solheim Cup shifted to odd-numbered years in 2003.

      Next year's Solheim Cup is scheduled for Sept. 4-6 at Inverness Club in Toledo. The United States captain is Pat Hurst, while Europe's captain is Catriona Matthew. The 2023 Solhem Cup is scheduled for Sept. 22-24 at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

      Since the Solheim Cup began in 1990, the United States has won 10 times with Europe winning six times.

      --Field Level Media

  • Dustin Johnson favored for Masters repeat
    By Field Level Media / Monday, November 16, 2020

    Now that he has the "second major" monkey off his back, will the floodgates open for Dustin Johnson?

    • Fresh off his record-setting win at Augusta National on Sunday, Johnson has already been installed as the favorite to win the 2021 Masters.

      In another scheduling first created by to the coronavirus pandemic, Augusta National will play host to consecutive majors - and three in a six-major span.

      Johnson is the +700 favorite by DraftKings to repeat as Masters champion in five months. That makes him the slight early favorite over Bryson DeChambeau (+800) and Rory McIlroy (+900).

      Johnson took advantage of soft November conditions to set a tournament scoring record at 20-under par. Even with the course softened, Johnson won by a comfortable five shots, and that came after tying for second place in 2019.

      The 36-year-old firmed his grip on the No. 1 world ranking and further cemented his Hall of Fame resume. It also ended a streak of failing to hold a 54-hole lead at four previous majors. Johnson's lone previous major title was a come-from-behind victory at the 2016 U.S. Open.

      Johnson finished second at this year's PGA Championship after Collin Morikawa charged past him with a 64 in the final round. However, he won the first leg of The Northern Trust with a tournament record 30 under score, won the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup title and tied for second place at the Houston Open after recovering from COVID-19.

      He opened the Masters with a 65 and never looked back, as Johnson became the first player to card a pair of 65s in the same week at Augusta National.

      DeChambeau was the pre-tournament favorite but struggled with an illness early on and was undone by a wayward driver that led to a double bogey in the first round and a triple bogey in the second. He did rally to make the cut and finished T34 at 2 under - 18 shots behind Johnson.

      McIlroy also scrambled to play the weekend after opening with a 75. He went 66-67-69 over the final three rounds to rocket up to a tie for fifth, and actually bettered Johnson by one stroke over the final 54 holes.

      The Northern Irishman moved past Morikawa to No. 4 in the official world golf rankings and in April will make his seventh attempt to complete the career grand slam.

      Jon Rahm is being offered at +1000 for the 2021 Masters by DraftKings along with Justin Thomas, followed by Brooks Koepka at +1600.

      Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods is +2800. He was only four shots off the lead through 36 holes, but faded with a 72 in the third round and then carded a 76 on Sunday that included a career-worst 10 on the par-3 12th hole.

      Woods did rally to finish with four consecutive birdies and tied for 38th.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods' final round marred by worst hole of career
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, November 15, 2020

    Defending champion Tiger Woods played the worst hole of his career during Sunday's final round at the Masters.

    • He found the water three times and needed 10 strokes to finish the par-3 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.

      Woods' previous high score was a 9 on the third hole in the third round at the 1997 Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

      The five-time Masters champion put his tee shot into the water, an 8-iron from 155 yards that landed on the front of the green and rolled back into Rae's Creek.

      He took a penalty stroke and a drop in front of the creek with 70 yards to the flag, only to spin the ball back into the water again.

      After a second drop and penalty stroke, Woods sailed his fifth shot long into the back bunker. His sixth shot from the sand traveled over the green and back into the water.

      Following another drop, he hit his eighth shot from the bunker onto the fringe and finally two-putted for a 10.

      "I committed to the wrong wind. The wind was off the right for the first two guys, and then when I stepped up there, it switched to howling off the left, which -- and the flag on 11 was howling off the left," Woods said. "I didn't commit to the wind, and I also got ahead of it and pushed it, too, because I thought the wind would come more off the right and it was off the left, and that just started the problem from there.

      "From there I hit a lot more shots and had a lot more experiences there in Rae's Creek, and then ... this is unlike any other sport in which you're so alone out there and you have to figure it out and you have to fight and no one is going to pull you off the bump and you just have to figure it out, and I did coming in."

      Woods, 44, rebounded from the disastrous hole with birdies at five of the last six holes to finish with a 4-over 76 for Sunday's round and a 1-under 287 for the tournament. He tied for 38th place.

      According to the PGA Tour, Woods' previous high score at the Masters was an 8 -- on the eighth hole in 1999 and 15th hole in 2013. Both those holes are par-5s.

      --Field Level Media

  • D.J.'s lead has sportsbooks looking at Masters runner-up
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 14, 2020

    Dustin Johnson is the only player in history to fail to hold his first four 54-hole leads in majors.

    • Sportsbooks overwhelmingly believe the world's No. 1-ranked player will snap that drought on Sunday.

      Johnson holds a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Masters after tying Jordan Spieth's 54-hole scoring record at Augusta National of 16-under par.

      He is -286 at BetMGM and -300 at William Hill to claim his first green jacket and second major championship on Sunday.

      Johnson doesn't have a bogey in his past 30 holes and is already the first player to shoot two 65s in the same Masters.

      He'll be paired on Sunday with Masters rookie Sungjae Im, the young South Korean who won the 2018-19 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Im is being offered at +1400 by both books along with Australia's Cameron Smith.

      Im, Smith and Mexico's Abraham Ancer are tied for second at 12 under. However, Ancer is +1600 as he also attempts to win in his Masters debut.

      Johnson can take extra comfort in knowing that no one outside of the top five after 54 holes has come from behind to win the Masters in 30 years. In fifth place entering Sunday is South Africa's Dylan Frittelli at 11 under.

      With zero combined major titles between his four closest chasers, Johnson is in commanding position to win his first major since the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

      BetMGM is among the sportsbooks seeking to stoke the betting action with odds on the tournament winner without Johnson in the equation. Effectively, a market in the race for second place.

      Im and Smith are co-leaders in that market at +400, followed by Ancer at +500. Justin Thomas is six shots behind Johnson entering Sunday, but only two shots behind second place. The former PGA Championship winner is being offered at +500, while world No. 2 Jon Rahm is +1000 at 9 under.

      Both closed with bogeys on Saturday to make their pursuit of Johnson even more challenging. They're still being offered at shorter odds than Frittelli (+1200) in the prop market.

      2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed is being offered at +1600 along with Rory McIlroy, who fought his way off the cut line and within shouting distance with rounds of 66 and 67 following an opening-round 75.

      --Field Level Media

  • Woods 'sore' as he fades out of Masters contention
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, November 14, 2020

    Tiger Woods admitted his back was an issue Saturday as the defending Masters champion faded out of contention with a third-round, even-par 72 at Augusta National.

    • Woods said he woke up before 3:30 a.m. to begin preparing his body to play the final eight holes of his second round beginning at 7:30. He was only four shots off the lead through 36 holes but said the quick turnaround to play another 18 holes on Saturday played a role in his lackluster 72.

      Woods, 44, managed only a pair of birdies that were offset by two bogies, and his even-par round left him 11 shots off the lead of Dustin Johnson (16 under, 200 total). Woods, who underwent spinal fusion surgery three years ago, winced noticeably after a few shots during the third round.

      "It's just part of the deal,'' Woods said. "If you have long days like this, I'm going to be a little bit sore, which I definitely am.

      "I can walk all day. The hard part is bending and twisting," he said. "I think that's part of the game, though, and so that's always been the challenge with my back issues and I guess will always continue to be."

      Woods is tied for 20th at 5 under 211 for the tournament, leaving too much ground to make up in this year's quest to tie Jack Nicklaus' record of six Masters titles.

      "I was focused on trying to get myself in contention going into tomorrow," said Woods, who is paired with Scottie Scheffler and reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry at 8:12 a.m. off the No. 1 tee for the final round. "We'll see how emotional it'll be after tomorrow's round."

      --Field Level Media

  • Langer, 63, becomes oldest to make Masters cut
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 13, 2020

    Bernard Langer, who won the Masters in 1985 and 1993, made history in Augusta, Ga., again Friday.

    • The 63-year-old German became the oldest player to make the cut at the Masters. He is one month older than Tommy Aaron was when he advanced to the weekend in 2000.

      "How about that? I'll drink to that," Langer said.

      He added, "There have been many great players here before me -- from Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to all the greats that have competed here -- and to be the oldest to make the cut, it's certainly an achievement," he said. "Hopefully I get to play a few more years and enjoy this place."

      Langer sits at 3-under-par 141, tied for 27th after rounds of 68 and 73 at Augusta National Golf Club. The second round wasn't completed Friday due to darkness, so the exact cut line isn't known, but Langer is no danger, four strokes below the projected cut.

      He is playing in the Masters for the 37th time, and he made the cut for the third year in a row. Langer has nine top-10 finishes in Augusta, most recently in 2014, when he tied for eighth.

      Langer logged five bogeys and four birdies on Friday following a stellar opening round in which he had six birdies and two bogeys.

      "I think I know how to get around (Augusta National), even though I hit very long clubs (on approach shots, but it's certainly not easy," he said.

      --Field Level Media

  • DJ, Frittelli, Casey atop Masters at 7-under
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 13, 2020

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson birdied to close his first round with a 65 to share the lead at the Masters Tournament with South Africa's Dylan Frittelli on Friday morning, before a quick 30-minute break led into the start of the second round.

    • England's Paul Casey was also at 7-under with a 65, even with Johnson and Frittelli through the opening 18 holes.

      Rain interrupted play on Thursday, forcing some players to return to the course on Friday morning to finish Thursday's round.

      Frittelli, in his second Masters, wasn't the only player to take advantage of friendly conditions that produced the best first-round scoring average in the history of the event.

      The 94-entry field played the front nine played a collective 48-under par in the first round. The back nine played 6-under.

      "It is nice, I feel like I'm on a good roll, feeling good with the golf swing," Johnson said. "We know how the golf course is playing, played nine holes here this morning. To turn around and go back out is a nice advantage."

      Frittelli eagled the par-5 13th and birdied the next three holes to help him card a 32 on the back nine before he completed his first round on the front side.

      Frittelli said he would grab a quick bite and get back in position to start the second round with a scheduled 10:25 a.m. ET start.

      Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, 63, of Germany, was 4-under and tied for 10th after the first round. He was tied with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, among others, when he walked off the course early Friday.

      Less than 25 minutes later, Langer was back on the tee box to begin the second round. Langer had 11 one-putts in the first round.

      Langer and 62-year-old American Larry Mize, who stood at 2-under par, became the first pair of 60-plus golfers under to shoot 70 or under in the first round of any major.

      Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, tied for 78th place after a first-round 75, entered the second round needing to shoot 67 to make the projected cut of 2-under par.

      --Field Level Media

  • Erik van Rooyen withdraws from Masters
    By Field Level Media / Friday, November 13, 2020

    Erik van Rooyen withdrew from the Masters with an undisclosed injury on Friday morning.

    • The 30-year-old South African was aggressively kneading his back over his final seven holes.

      He will be replaced by familiar Masters marker Jeff Knox, an Augusta National Golf Club member who enters the field anytime an in-round change would leave a single golfer in a group.

      With 92 players in the field, Knox was added to the field for the second round. Sergio Garcia (positive COVID-19 test) and Trevor Immelman withdrew before the tournament began, whittling the original 94-player field.

      van Rooyen shot a 4-over 76 in the first round Thursday and was 5 over on his final five holes.

      --Field Level Media

  • Players grateful for 'bizarre' Masters
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 12, 2020

    No azaleas in bloom. No patrons lining Amen Corner. A ceremonial tee shot hit at daybreak by six-time champion Jack Nicklaus on a soggy November morning.

    • It's a Masters unlike any other, but one the 92 players in this week's field are simply grateful to have.

      "I've been so excited to get here," said Paul Casey, who set the early pace with his 7-under 65 on Thursday. "For me, this is just a joy to be on this golf course.

      "I miss the patrons, I miss the fans. I'd love it if they were here."

      Webb Simpson called the feeling "bizarre" when he stepped up to the 10th tee box - his first of the day - and looked down a fairway with no patrons.

      "I'm used to that first tee shot, hitting driver kind of through the people," he said. "But this morning, there was just a few members."

      Augusta National features several uphill approach shots where the green is blind to the players. They typically judge the reaction from the gallery to gauge how a shot turned out.

      "I hit my second shot (on 10), I didn't know where it went - very bizarre," Simpson said. "We do miss the (the fans), it's very different."

      Casey said there were a few more people on the grounds than he expected, but he was comfortable with the coronavirus testing protocols the tournament has in place. And the smattering of people walking the course didn't come close to matching the feeling of a typical Masters.

      "There is this vibe, this vibe that Augusta National has," he said. "This aura, something that is intangible and something that you can't measure that adds excitement to playing this golf course.

      "It's still exciting, it's exciting to be out there."

      That sentiment was echoed by defending champion Tiger Woods, who is trying to equal Nicklaus' record of six green jackets. There was a time no one knew if the 2020 Masters would take place.

      "It didn't look like we were going to play this event," he said. "To have this opportunity again, to be able to play it, it was awesome to be out there.

      "It certainly is a much different atmosphere with no patrons. The electricity is just not there. There's no fan reaction."

      Augusta National is now set to play host to three of the next six majors through the spring of 2022.

      "It's a very different world," Woods said. "But the fact that we're able to have a Masters and have this opportunity to compete for a green jacket is pretty amazing."

      --Field Level Media

  • Tiger Woods: 'Everything' worked well in opening 68
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 12, 2020

    On a day of impressive feats at Augusta National on Thursday, Tiger Woods turned in a few of his own.

    • Woods ended his 19-month wait to defend his fifth Masters title by putting together a bogey-free round of 4-under 68. That left him three shots off the lead of early leader Paul Casey.

      Marking his 25 anniversary of his first Masters, Woods carded his first bogey-free opening round at Augusta, his first at the Masters overall since 2008 and his first in any major in 106 rounds.

      The 68 was his best opening round of the five he has played as the defending champion.

      "It was good all around," Woods said of his game on Thursday. "There's really nothing that, looking back on it, that I could have done a little bit better.

      "Obviously, I could have made a few more putts. The putts just aren't breaking, I missed all of the putts on the high side."

      There was little to foreshadow Woods' 4 under round, which included three birdies in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 13-16 on his opening nine holes. This is only his seventh start since the PGA Tour resumed play in June, with a tie for 37th at the PGA Championship his best finish over that stretch.

      Woods had only posted one sub-70 score in his past 10 rounds entering Thursday.

      But he always seems to flip a switch when he arrives at Augusta, which Woods chalks up to the experience of 25 years.

      "There is a sense of ease when I come here," he said, "just because I know how to prepare for this golf course. And there is no other major that plays every year at the same venue."

      Woods said "everything" was working well on Thursday. He'll now wait to see when he'll be able to get on the course Friday afternoon. The schedule has been impacted due to the weather delay shortly after the first round began.

      "There's nothing that I felt that I did poorly," he said. "And I look forward to whenever I play tomorrow ... some time."

      --Field Level Media

  • DeChambeau recovers from early double to stay in Masters hunt
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 12, 2020

    With players attacking Augusta National following a weather delay that softened the course on Thursday, pre-tournament favorite Bryson DeChambeau found himself in a precious position created by his vaunted driver.

    • Starting his opening round on the back nine, DeChambeau sent his tee shot way left on the 11th hole and needed to scramble for par. Looking to capitalize on his distance on the par-5 13th, DeChambeau found the pine straw off the tee and then the azaleas past the green.

      A double bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course left DeChambeau at 2-over through four holes.

      "I just kept telling myself 'patience' out there," he said after the round. "No matter what, I'm going to have a lot of opportunities coming in."

      Those opportunities began with birdies at Nos. 15 and 16. DeChambeau traded another birdie with a lone bogey over the next nine holes before closing with another pair of birdies.

      "I'm fortunate enough to be 2-under par," he said after signing for his 70 that left him five shots back of early leader Paul Casey. "I definitely was a little risky out there, I guess you could say. I'm OK with that, I just didn't execute some of those shots that I normally do.

      "Always, to be under par here is great."

      DeChambeau will now attempt to become the first player to win the Masters after carding a double bogey in the first round since Phil Mickelson in 2014.

      "I have to look at it from the standpoint that it's still golf," he said. "Anybody can win. Clearly today I wasn't at my best and albeit I was able to shoot under par, there's plenty of guys out there that are beating me right now.

      "I gotta look at it like that and say, 'I gotta go attack the golf course.'"

      --Field Level Media

  • Westwood, Simpson off to fast starts at Masters
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 12, 2020

    Lee Westwood moved atop the leaderboard midway through his first round of the rain-hampered Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

    • Westwood was 5-under par through nine holes after a lengthy delay. Webb Simpson, who began on the backside, soon joined Westwood at 5 under after 11 holes -- with a birdie on No. 1 and an eagle 3 on No. 2.

      Defending champion Tiger Woods also had a strong start, holding a score of 3 under through nine holes by early in the afternoon, his best 9-hole start ever at the Masters.

      Play was suspended shortly after the first few groups teed off Thursday morning. Heavy rains fell with storms in the area, causing golfers to be called off the course.

      Eighteen golfers began rounds before a delay of 2 hours, 45 minutes. Woods was warming up in preparation for the round when play was suspended.

      U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who like Woods began on the 10th tee, took a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 13th hole. It was his first double-bogey in a major since 2016. He recovered to move to 1 under through 11 holes.

      Woods carded his first birdie on No. 13, then had two birdies across the next three holes.

      Because of the change to November dates, tee times were set for the first and 10th tees.

      Another wave of golfers was set for afternoon action Thursday. Because of impending darkness, some golfers will be forced to complete their first rounds Friday before the second round.

      --Field Level Media

  • Masters suspended; only six groups started play
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, November 12, 2020

    Only six groups began play at the 2020 Masters before weather forced suspension of the first round Thursday at Augusta National Golf Course.

    • Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus opened the proceedings with ceremonial tee shots as rain intensified early Thursday.

      Play was suspended at 7:35 a.m. ET with Augusta, Ga., under a flash flood watch. Temperatures were in the low 70s.

      Rain is out of the forecast by late morning with highs approaching 80 degrees.

      Tiger Woods, who had a scheduled 7:55 a.m. ET start on the 10th tee, worked on the practice green in full rain gear before the tournament was paused with Americans Lucas Glover, Charles Howell III, C.T. Pan (Chinese Taipei), Corey Conners (Canada), Jazz Janewattananond (Thailand) all at even par and atop the leaderboard through one hole.

      The Masters started groups on the first and 10th holes this year due to daylight considerations. The cutline was also altered to include the low 50 scores through 36 holes.

      Honorary starters have kicked off the Masters since 1963.

      --Field Level Media