Some semblance of normalcy returns to Augusta this coming week.
The Masters is being held in April again.
What’s weird is the fact that this week’s Masters comes just five months after the last Masters, which was played in November because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Weirder is the fact that the past major championship played before this week’s 2021 Masters was … that 2020 Masters, won by Dustin Johnson.
Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters winner, said he “feels bad’’ for Johnson because “unless he were the repeat [winner], he didn’t get the [green] jacket for more than five months. That’s kind of a bummer for him.’’
Johnson, unaffected by pretty much everything, will be fine. He’ll power on.
“It wouldn’t bother me if I only had it for a day,’’ Johnson said. “Five months, a year, one month, one day, it doesn’t really make a difference to me. It would be OK. I’ve got one.”
That the Masters powered on in November was impressive, given the difficult circumstances.
“It was different, but it’s going to go down as an extremely special and important Masters,’’ Jim Nantz, the lead CBS broadcaster, told The Post. “Dustin Johnson was the right man for the occasion. It was an important win for his career, which will be a Hall of Fame career.
“And, the effort to get the tournament on the other side of the calendar, to get it from spring event to a fall event and to make it all work the way it did, it came off without a hitch. Obviously, we know the things that were missing — the patrons, the roars and all of that. But it was still a massive achievement.
“We all can recognize how it wasn’t the same, but given what it was, it still was the same in many respects. It still had the drama, it still had the pivotal, key situations and shots and it still delivered a very worthy champion.’’
Other than the azaleas popping, the most significant indication of normalcy this week at Augusta National will be the return of spectators. In November, the only people permitted on the grounds were players, caddies, media and club members. There were not even ropes set up to line the fairways and greens.
Augusta National hasn’t announced exactly how many “patrons’’ will be on the grounds for this week, but it likely will be about 25 percent capacity (10,000 or so per day), which would be similar to what the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship in March permitted.
“Whatever percentage it will be, patrons that are there will make it feel like normal, even it’s not at full capacity,’’ Spieth said. “I’m looking more forward to this one that I was maybe in November. But the Masters is the Masters. They give out a jacket at the end of it, and it’s a dream-come-true situation. It doesn’t matter when it’s played and who’s there. It’s you against the golf course and the field.’’
No one in the 2020 field could keep up with Johnson, ranked No. 1 in the world. He finished at 20-under 268, the lowest score in tournament history, thanks to the soft November conditions: the rye grass had not taken full root and the summer Bermuda had yet to go entirely dormant.
Regardless of the conditions, no one was going to overtake Johnson, who won by five shots with four rounds in the 60s.
“DJ, I think, would have won whether it was in November or April,” Justin Thomas said. “He played far and away better than anyone else.”
The player who played better than anyone else in the field in the 2019 Masters, five-time winner Tiger Woods, will not be on property this week. He’s at home in Florida recovering from the horrific Feb. 23 car crash that left him with career-threatening injuries to his right leg and foot. This will be the fourth time in the past eight years that injuries have kept Woods from playing.
Other than no Woods and the pared-down galleries, it’s a Masters back in April, and they will be handing out a green jacket to the winner.
“I think it will be back to feeling like a normal Masters,’’ Johnson said. “Obviously, last year there was nothing normal about last year, for the whole year. I think this year in April, the Masters will feel like it’s back, and it will feel the same. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”