Garcia Among Three Past Champions To Drop Out Of Masters

The Masters Tournament famously fields a small number of competitors, but with the global pandemic still raging across the globe, the 2020 field has shrunk to 92 players after four have informed Augusta National Golf Club that they will not be competing.

Trevor Immelman, the winner of the 2008 Masters, indicated late last year that he was planning to give up his role as a competitor in order to work on the broadcast team for CBS Sports, and Angel Cabrera, the champion the following year in 2009, was listed by Augusta National Golf Club on Monday as a non-competing former champion.

Two other players, however, had their decision to miss out on the event forced upon them by positive COVID-19 test results. 

First, over the weekend, 22-year-old Chilean Joaquin Niemann announced that he had tested positive for the virus. 

 
 
 
 
 
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I have tested positive for coronavirus and unfortunately I will not play in @themasters next week as a result. This event means a lot to me, and I have had incredible memories playing as the LAAC champion, as well as alongside some of the game’s greatest players last year. I am disappointed but will do everything possible to recover quickly while keeping my family and team safe. /// Desafortunadamente testee positivo para coronavirus y no podré jugar @themasters la semana que viene. Este torneo significa mucho para mi, tengo muy buenas memorias de cuando lo jugué como campeón del LAAC y en verdad estoy muy desilusionado de no poderlo jugar este año pero haré todo lo posible por tener una pronta recuperación mientras mantengo a mi familia y a mi equipo sanos.

A post shared by Joaquin Niemann (@joaco_niemann) on

“I have tested positive for coronavirus and unfortunately I will not play in The Masters next week as a result,” Niemann said on Instagram. “This event means a lot to me, and I have had incredible memories playing as the (Latin America Amateur Championship) champion, as well as alongside some of the game’s greatest players last year. I am disappointed, but will do everything possible to recover quickly while keeping my family and team safe.

While Niemann’s positive test was a bummer for the event, on Monday an even more notable recent past champion declared he had contracted the virus and therefore wouldn’t be playing, Sergio Garcia. 

“On Saturday night after driving back from the Houston Open, I started feeling a bit of a sore throat and a cough,” Garcia wrote on social media. “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.”

Speaking to the media on Monday, former World No. 1 and 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott, who recently returned from a COVID-19 positive test, said he felt for the players who have tested positive. 

“Terrible timing,” Scott said. “I feel for Joaquin and certainly for Sergio, a past champion. It’s got to be tough to miss out. I hope they are both just feeling OK, nothing serious.”