Adam Scott believes the absence of fans will be the biggest difference at the Masters beginning this week.

No fans will be in attendance at Augusta, where the Masters begin on Thursday after being rescheduled from April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While conditions are also set to be different – and rain is forecast throughout the major – Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, said playing without fans was undoubtedly the biggest factor.

"I think a lot's different about the year, but this week and the Masters being played in these circumstances, there's no doubt the missing galleries is going to be the biggest difference," the Australian told a news conference. 

"I've played two major championships since we've come back from this COVID break, and it couldn't be more different playing major championship golf without the spectators out there and the crowds and the atmosphere, and that is a huge difference.

"The things that will be the same is it still means the same to us all, and maybe even more so because we return to Augusta National every year. 

"Everything that the club does to make this a special event for everybody who gets to watch it, whether that's on TV, the patrons who come to the grounds or the players, it's an incredible experience, and that is why it means so much to us all. That will be the same.

"We'll be missing one element, but it is a huge element to the experience of playing the Masters."

Scott won the Genesis Invitational in February, but the world number 15 is yet to hit top form since returning to action after the coronavirus-enforced break.

In the past five events, Scott's best finish was a tie for 22nd at the US PGA Championship, while he also tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

"I think it's been very challenging for me personally, and I'm not going to sit here and complain about how difficult it's been," Scott said.

"I was in good form back then in the spring, and because of all the circumstances, it's really affected my preparation and my practice, and many things since returning. 

"I think all the guys who are based internationally and not based here in the United States would probably feel similar. It's not easy moving around at the moment, and lots of different restrictions depending where you are and where you're moving to. But coming back here this week, since testing positive, last week wasn't too bad.

"There was a lot of good stuff in there, and hopefully the work that I have done and been able to do the last couple of months will accumulate and I'll be able to finish the year with a bang here this week. Certainly my form hasn't been as good since, but everything's been very inconsistent."

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo believes playing Augusta this week will be no easier for the absence of patrons but the winning feeling on Sunday will be dampened.

A unique November Masters begins without spectators on Thursday, with the tournament moved from its usual April date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Faldo, who won at Augusta in 1989, 1990 and 1996, believes the players will suffer as a result of fans being kept away.

And the six-time major winner foresees an awkward celebration for this year's victor, completely out of keeping with the scenes in 2019 as Tiger Woods ended an 11-year wait for one of golf's top prizes.

"It's going to be very different," Faldo said. "You're going to celebrate winning by turning, looking at your caddy and just giving a whatever, half high-five.

"There won't be any adrenaline like Tiger showed last year.

"It's probably quite sad for some guys. You win a tournament and go, 'Hi, thanks', and you get a little golf clap. It will hurt a little bit, because it's just not the same.

"The famous walk, coming up the 18th; I can promise you, the goosebumps. It's all unfortunately going to be less, it has to be less. It's one of the most wonderful walks coming down the 18th at a major to win.

"The Masters is so special because the whole green is engulfed with patrons, the famous scoreboards. It's all going to be very quiet.

"The good thing is there will still be a green jacket waiting at Butler Cabin. It will feel good by then, but it has to feel very different on the golf course."

Predicting the empty course could get under the skin of some players, Faldo added: "To play the Masters without even having any patron ropes lining any of the fairways is going to be a pretty weird feeling, a weird look.

"It's just you, just the golfers, so I think, in a way, it can actually increase the intensity or the pressure. It's just you coping with everything.

"Some players are [usually] able to reflect their emotion with the fans, with the patrons, a smile, a wink, a funny face, a reaction off a good shot, a great shot, a poor shot.

"Now it's all down to you, you and your caddy. That could wind some of them up as well.

"With no patrons around, people think it's easier. But at the Masters, playing the second nine for a green jacket, it will still have incredible intensity. Just you and your caddy.

"You'll probably be able to hear your own heartbeat, you'll certainly be able to feel it. It will be so silent, just you dealing with everything."

Sergio Garcia has revealed his sadness at having to withdraw from this year's Masters after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The 40-year-old Spaniard had been due to participate in the delayed event but will now spend the tournament in a period of self-isolation instead.

Garcia, who won the Masters three years ago, experienced symptoms on the journey back to his home in Austin following the conclusion of the Houston Open last weekend and a subsequent test came back positive.

"On Saturday night after driving back from the Houston Open, I started feeling a bit of a sore throat and a cough," Garcia said in a message posted on his Twitter account.

"The symptoms stayed with me on Sunday morning so I decided to get tested for COVID-19 and so did my wife Angela. Thankfully she tested negative, but I didn’t.

"After 21 years of not missing a Major Championship, I will sadly miss the Masters this week. The important thing is that my family and I are feeling good. We’ll come back stronger and give the green jacket a go next April."

A statement from organisers added: "Sergio Garcia has informed Augusta National Golf Club that he will not participate in the 2020 Masters tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test result."

Garcia is the second player to pull out of the tournament due to the virus, with Joaquin Neimann of Chile withdrawing after a positive test last weekend.

The Masters will be held at Augusta National Golf Club from November 12-15.

Carlos Ortiz held off Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama to win the Houston Open for his maiden victory on the PGA Tour.

Ortiz carded a five-under 65 in the final round at the Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course in Texas to finish at 13 under.

The 29-year-old finished two strokes clear of Johnson (65) and Matsuyama (63) for his first PGA Tour triumph.

Ortiz's win came in his 118th start, while he joined Victor Regalado and Cesar Sanudo as the only Mexicans to win a PGA Tour event.

During a bogey-free final round, Ortiz secured his success in style with a 22-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

Making his first start since the U.S. Open after recovering from coronavirus, world number one Johnson fell short despite continuing his charge with a final-round 65.

Johnson struggled to a 72 in the opening round, and that proved costly as he finished with three straight rounds of 66 or better, having narrowly missed a 21-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have put him in a share of the lead.

Matsuyama produced the equal best round of the day as his 63 saw him finish alongside Johnson in a tie for second.

Talor Gooch (63) was outright fourth at nine under, a shot ahead of Brooks Koepka (65) and Sepp Straka (69).

Koepka posted back-to-back 65s, marking the second time in his career he has posted consecutive rounds of 65 or better in the third and final rounds, in positive signs ahead of next week's Masters.

Mackenzie Hughes (63), Tyrrell Hatton (65), overnight leader Sam Burns (72) and Jason Day (71) ended up at seven under.

Sam Burns retained the lead at the Houston Open, but Jason Day and Dustin Johnson are among those in contention.

Burns, 24, holds a 54-hole lead for the first time in his PGA Tour career after carding a two-under 68 at the Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course.

The American moved into nine under, a stroke ahead of Australian Day (67) and Mexican Carlos Ortiz (67).

Burns, who has two top-10 finishes this year, had an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys during his third round.

Without a top-10 finish since the US PGA Championship in August, Day is in contention after a third straight round in the 60s.

Sepp Straka (66) is outright fourth at seven under, a shot ahead of Johnson.

World number one Johnson, playing for the first time since the U.S. Open, carded a second straight 66, having opened with a 72.

Johnson produced a bogey-free third round, making four birdies – including a 17-footer at the fifth.

Aaron Wise (69) and Dawie van der Walt (69) are at five under, one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama (66), Michael Thompson (67), Shane Lowry (68), Tony Finau (68) and Patton Kizzire (70).

Brooks Koepka showed some better form ahead of next week's Masters, the American firing a five-under 65 – the equal best round of the day – to move into a tie for 13th at three under.

Sam Burns earned a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Houston Open, where former world number one Jordan Spieth's struggles continued after another missed cut.

Burns – eyeing a maiden PGA Tour title – carded a five-under-par 65 to top the leaderboard following Friday's second round at Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course.

The 24-year-old American was flawless as he holed five birdies without dropping a shot in Texas, where round two was suspended due to darkness.

Burns recorded his second career lead/co-lead on Tour – his first came at the 2020 Safeway Open following the second round.

Jason Day (68), another former world number one, and Mexican Carlos Ortiz (68) are Burns' nearest challengers at five under.

Overnight leader Brandt Snedeker dropped down into a tie for fourth after his second-round 71, alongside Dawie van der Walt (66), Corey Conners (67), Aaron Wise (66) and Patton Kizzire (67).

World number one Dustin Johnson regrouped to post a four-under-par 66, enough for a share of 14th position – five shots off the pace.

In action for the first time since the U.S. Open after recovering from coronavirus, bounced back from a first-round 72 with six birdies and two bogeys.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka survived to qualify for the weekend courtesy of his 70.

Ahead of this month's reschedule Masters, Koepka is tied for 46th at two over, just two strokes above the projected cut.

Spieth's tournament came to an end following back-to-back rounds in the 70s – his third missed cut in five outings.

The American star has not won since the 2017 Open Championship.

The likes of Sergio Garcia (71) and Phil Mickelson (73) also failed to make it to the weekend.

Mickelson finished nine over after shooting an eight on the par-three ninth hole – the highest score on a par three of his PGA Tour career.

Brandt Snedeker carded a five-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead as the first round of the Houston Open was suspended on Thursday.

The American has struggled for form in 2020, but made a fine start at Memorial Park Municipal Golf Course in Texas.

Snedeker, who has just one top-10 finish in 17 events this year, mixed six birdies with a bogey in the opening round.

He holds a two-shot lead over Cameron Davis, Michael Thompson, Scottie Scheffler, Harold Varner III, Carlos Ortiz and Jason Day, who all opened with 67s.

The last time Snedeker held the 18-hole lead or co-lead on the PGA Tour was after his 59 at the 2018 Wyndham Championship, which he won.

Only nine players were yet to complete their rounds when it was suspended due to darkness.

On what is a congested leaderboard chasing Snedeker, Adam Long, Kevin Streelman, Sam Burns, Talor Gooch, Sepp Straka, Scott Piercy, 2007 champion Adam Scott and Greg Chalmers all opened with 68s.

In action for the first time since the U.S. Open after recovering from coronavirus, Dustin Johnson battled to a two-over 72.

Johnson is back in a tie for 63rd, and he is joined in that group by Brooks Koepka and defending champion Lanto Griffin.

Jordan Spieth's struggles continued as he opened with a three-over 73.

With just two top-10 finishes in 18 events this year, Spieth was three under through 12 holes, only to make two double bogeys and two bogeys.

Martin Laird (72) delivered one of the day's highlights with a hole-in-one at the second hole.

Dustin Johnson remains unsure how he contracted coronavirus and the world number one said just where his game was at was "undetermined".

Johnson, 36, tested positive for COVID-19 last month and has been out of action since the U.S. Open.

The American is preparing for his return at the Houston Open, beginning on Thursday, but said he was still unsure how he got infected.

"The only good thing that came out of this is I know I'm playing next week at the Masters," Johnson told a news conference.

"I'd be nervous, for sure. It's one of those things… I had no idea where I got it from. Obviously, I thought about it, tried to figure it out. I had every person that I'd been around, people that had been in my house, any person that I'd come in contact with – my friends, family, people that work for me – every single one of them went and got tested. Not Paulina, the kids, everybody, not one person had it.

"The only thing I can figure is I got in Vegas… I don't even know how I got it there. That's the only place I could have got it because not one person I was around had it… and nobody got it either from me."

Johnson has enjoyed a fine 2020, claiming two wins and seven other top-10 finishes in 16 events.

The 2016 U.S. Open champion said he was happy to be back after a longer-than-expected break.

"My health is good. The state of my game is undetermined," Johnson said.

“It wasn't that bad as far as I didn't get really sick. I felt like I had a cold for a few days, and after that, I was pretty much asymptomatic. A little fatigue and things like that, but I couldn't really figure out if that's cos' I was stuck in a hotel room for like 11 days, or if it was COVID that made me feel that way.

"Really, I didn't leave the room for 11 days. I was just laying around kind of doing nothing. It was almost one of those things, I was waiting to get sick because you know you have it, and you're sitting there just… For me, it was very mild and obviously I'm very thankful for that.

"It definitely puts a wrench in your plans and what you're trying to do. Obviously, I was planning on playing at Shadow Creek and Sherwood, those two events. I had a lot more time off than I was planning on."

Brian Gay claimed his first PGA Tour win in nearly eight years after a play-off victory at the Bermuda Championship on Sunday.

The American rolled in a long birdie putt on the first play-off hole – the 18th – to edge Wyndham Clark at Port Royal Golf Course.

Gay's win was his fifth on the PGA Tour and first since January 2013, when he triumphed at the Humana Challenge.

The 48-year-old became the oldest winner on the PGA Tour since Davis Love III, at the age of 51, took the title at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

Gay made a birdie on his final hole in regulation to shoot a seven-under 64 in the final round and reach 15 under for the week.

He had previously struggled in 2020, missing the cut at 14 of 18 events heading to Bermuda.

"I've been playing awful since COVID and it's been a struggle, been trying to work hard and get back," he told the Golf Channel after his win.

"I love this place, came here last year and finished third so I had good feelings coming in."

Clark carded a final-round 65, but could only manage par on the first play-off hole against Gay.

Ollie Schniederjans (66) was outright third at 13 under, a shot ahead of Denny McCarthy (63), Stewart Cink (64), Matt Jones (67) and overnight leader Doc Redman (69).

Doc Redman earned a one-stroke lead at the Bermuda Championship thanks to his four-under-par 67 in the third round on Saturday.

Redman moved top of the leaderboard courtesy of a near-flawless display at Port Royal Golf Course, where the American holed five birdies and just one bogey in windy conditions.

The 22-year-old is seeking his maiden PGA Tour title and second top-five finish of the 2020-21 season, having tied for third at the Safeway Open.

Redman has three career top-10 placings, each of which are top-three finishes – second at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, T3 at the 2020 Wyndham Championship and T3 at the 2020 Safeway Open.

Ryan Armour (70) and Wyndham Clark (70) – overnight leaders following Friday's second round – ended the penultimate day a shot behind Redman at nine under through 54 holes, along with Kramer Hickok (69).

"I'm asking [caddie] Billy to get the compass out and see what the wind's doing on this putt, because you have to factor that in so much, just because the wind’s blowing so hard,” said Hickok.

"Literally you've got a putt that's half a cup out left, and the wind's off the right, it will blow it left. It's different, it's fun, and you've got to embrace it."

"It's such a feel game right now, the way the course is playing, which is a lot of fun," Hickok continued. "You don't get that a lot on this TOUR. You've got to open up the imagination and just hit different shots. It's fun."

Matt Jones (66), Brian Gay (67) and Ollie Schniederjans (69) are a stroke further back, while Adam Schenk (66), Doug Ghim (68) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) are seven under.

Ryan Armour and Wyndham Clark share a one-stroke lead at the Bermuda Championship as the second round was suspended due to darkness.

Armour carded a one-under 70 and Clark fired a 68 in windy conditions as the pair moved into eight under at Port Royal Golf Course on Friday.

The round was suspended with just four players yet to get through 36 holes at the PGA Tour event.

Armour and Clark have struggled in 2020, but are in contention in Bermuda.

World number 217 Armour has missed 13 cuts in 18 events this year, while Clark has nine missed cuts in 20.

The pair hold a one-stroke lead over Kramer Hickok (68), while Ollie Schniederjans (70) and Doc Redman (71) are a stroke further back.

Denny McCarthy (67), Luke Donald (68), Roger Sloan (70), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (66), Scott Piercy (70) and overnight leader Peter Malnati (74) are at five under.

Aphibarnrat's performance was his 11th bogey-free round in 217 rounds on the PGA Tour.

Peter Malnati continued his good form, shooting an eight-under 63 to lead the Bermuda Championship by a stroke after the opening round.

The American mixed nine birdies – including five straight from the ninth hole – with one bogey at Port Royal Golf Course on Thursday.

Malnati's five straight birdies tied his career-best for most consecutive birdies in a PGA Tour round, while it marked the third straight tournament at which the 33-year-old has posted a score of 63 or better.

Having last won on the PGA Tour in 2015, Malnati entered the tournament on the back of a runner-up finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship and top-five result at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Malnati is a stroke ahead of Doug Ghim and Ryan Armour, who both produced bogey-free opening rounds.

Doc Redman, Vaughn Taylor and Chase Seiffert are a shot further back.

Hunter Mahan, the former world number four who has slipped to 1,227th in the rankings and missed the cut in 20 of his past 29 events, is among a group of eight players at five under.

Defending champion Brendon Todd could only manage an even-par 71 in the first round to be back in a tie for 80th.

Meanwhile, Fred Funk, 64, carded a two-under 69 playing in the same group as his son, Taylor, who managed a 73.

Patrick Cantlay upstaged Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm to win the Zozo Championship on Sunday.

Cantlay claimed his third PGA Tour victory after shooting a seven-under 65 in the final round at Sherwood Country Club in California.

The American produced a fine performance on Sunday, mixing nine birdies – tying his career-best in a round on the PGA Tour – with two bogeys.

Cantlay made four birdies in a five-hole stretch beginning at the 11th, including producing a wonderful tee shot at the par-three 15th.

"I've been playing really well I feel like the last little stretch, I just haven't put it together four days in a row and this week it was different," he told NBC after his first win of 2020.

"I played really well in Vegas so I tried to take the first week in Vegas [at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open], just try to take as much as I could from those first three days.

"It was nice to get off to a good start today and I played really well."

Thomas, who held the overnight lead, and Rahm finished tied for second a shot behind Cantlay.

Rahm (68) pushed to force a play-off but missed a 19-footer for birdie at the last, while Thomas carded a 69.

Russell Henley (66), Cameron Smith (67), Bubba Watson (68) and Ryan Palmer (69) finished tied for fourth at 19 under.

Rory McIlroy continued his good finish with a six-under 66 in the final round.

The Northern Irishman fired rounds of 67, 67 and 66 to finish the tournament, left to lament his opening 73 as he ended up tied for 17th.

McIlroy finished with 29 birdies during the tournament, which is his career-high on the PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods, the defending champion and 15-time major winner, struggled, a two-over 74 seeing him finish at one under and tied for 72nd.

Justin Thomas retained his lead at the Zozo Championship as Jon Rahm surged into contention on Saturday.

After back-to-back 65s at Sherwood Country Club in California, Thomas carded a five-under 67 in the third round.

The American mixed six birdies with just one bogey to get to 19 under and retain his one-stroke lead.

Thomas, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, is set for a final-round battle with Rahm.

Rahm charged into outright second thanks to a nine-under 63.

The Spanish world number two capitalised on a fast start, making a 17-footer for eagle at the par-five second hole.

Rahm went bogey-free in his round, which also included seven birdies, to be in contention for a sixth PGA Tour victory.

Of his previous five wins, two have come in the state of California – at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open and 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge.

Lanto Griffin continued his consistent showing with a four-under 68 that moved him into 17 under and outright third.

Sebastian Munoz (66), Ryan Palmer (66) and Patrick Cantlay (68) are a shot further back.

A group of six players – Webb Simpson (67), Brian Harman (67), Matt Fitzpatrick (67), Bubba Watson (68), Scottie Scheffler (69) and Dylan Frittelli (70) – are at 15 under.

After bouncing back in the second round, Tiger Woods battled in the third, the 15-time major winner and defending champion shooting a 71 to be back at three under.

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, continued to climb the leaderboard, a 67 lifting him into nine under and a tie for 36th.

Justin Thomas fired another seven-under 65 to grab a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Zozo Championship on Friday.

The American produced a bogey-free second round at Sherwood Country Club in California to move into 14 under.

Thomas, the 2017 US PGA Championship winner, made five birdies on the back nine – his first nine holes – before a solid finish.

The world number three, Thomas has enjoyed a fine year, including winning twice. He has multiple wins in every year since 2017.

Back-to-back 65s have given Thomas a one-stroke lead over Dylan Frittelli and Lanto Griffin, while Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler are a stroke further back after all four also shot 65s.

The round of the day belonged to Richy Werenski, who broke Tiger Woods' course record with a stunning 11-under 61.

Werenski birdied nine of his first 12 holes after starting his round at the 10th and he picked up another shot at the fifth to put him on track to break 60.

However, a bogey at the par-four sixth hurt his chances, although he responded with birdies at seven and nine to get to 11 under and a tie for sixth.

Abraham Ancer (66), Harris English (67), Bubba Watson (63), Tyrrell Hatton (68), Patrick Reed (63), Tony Finau (64) and Kevin Kisner (67) are all alongside Werenski.

Woods, in action for the first time since the U.S. Open, bounced back from his opening-round 76 with a six-under 66.

Despite his improvement, the defending champion and 15-time major winner is well back at two under to be tied for 66th.

It was a similar story for Rory McIlroy, who carded a 67 to get to four under, although the Northern Irishman is 10 strokes behind Thomas.

Overnight leader Sebastian Munoz dropped back into a tie for 14th after carding a two-under 70.

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