Picture: 123RF/DEKLOFENAK
Picture: 123RF/DEKLOFENAK

The $2.07m (R32.2m) winner’s cheque does not quite match the prestige that comes with triumphing in the Masters.

Still‚ the R180m purse for the much delayed instalment of the 2020 event that tees off at Augusta National on Thursday will come as manna in a season of limited earnings.

The 2020 tournament‚ which has shifted from its April slot to November for the first time in 84 editions‚ is considered to be wide open.

Dustin Johnson‚ Justin Thomas‚ Bryson DeChambeau‚ Jon Rahm‚ Brooks Koepka‚ Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy are all oft mentioned contenders‚ while 2019’s popular winner, Tiger Woods, hardly ever drifts from the conversation.

Louis Oosthuizen will get the SA challenge under way at 2.33pm (SA time) on Thursday.

Oosthuizen‚ playing in his 12th Masters‚ will be in good company alongside two of the favourites‚ Spain’s Rahm and the US’s DeChambeau.

The 2010 Open champion knows his way around Augusta National, having famously finished runner-up by losing in a play-off to Bubba Watson in 2012. He remains the only person to double-eagle the par-5 second‚ boasting also a hole-in-one on the 16th and a win in the par-3 contest in 2010.

In his 11th Masters appearance, Charl Schwartzel returns to the course where he enjoyed stunning success in 2011. With 15 worldwide wins to his name‚ though none of them recently, Schwartzel is off at 2.44pm‚ while rising 26-year-old Christiaan Bezuidenhout‚ on his Masters debut‚ gets going at 6.49pm.

The bespectacled Dylan Frittelli will tee off in his second Masters at 7pm. He missed the cut but made quite an initial impression with an ace on the eighth in the par 3 contest in 2018. The 30-year-old‚ who lives in the Texas capital Austin‚ is hoping to replicate the form that saw him win the 2019 John Deere Classic.

Cape Town-based Justin Harding made his Masters debut in 2019 and finished a respectable tied-12th. He won in Qatar on the European Tour in 2019 for his fifth title in 12 months on various tours.

Strong finishes on the European Tour helped earn Erik van Rooyen a spot in the Masters. Van Rooyen and Harding are both off at 6.05pm.

As you would expect‚ much attention will go the way of five-time winner Woods‚ who returns after his comeback win in 2019. Though this is his 23rd Masters, he has missed the cut just once. Wood tees off at 2.55pm.

Fifty-year-old Phil Mickelson is hoping to become the oldest winner at Augusta. Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he won his sixth title there in 1986, but Mickelson is drawing inspiration from arch rival Woods who won the title aged 43 in 2019.

Most tipsters are drawn to world No 1 Johnson who struck the ball supremely in Houston last week. He and McIlroy are in the same group off at 7pm. McIlroy‚ a four-time Major winner‚ delivered his best performance at the Masters in 2015 when he finished fourth.

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