AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Augusta National has taken another surprising step toward modernization: The Masters allowed for a walk-and-talk during the opening round when Rory McIlroy answered questions for the ESPN telecast while playing the ninth fairway.
Then, Max Homa later joined the fun, making a live guest appearance during his round.
CBS, which is producing the Masters, first broke out the technology at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Trevor Immelman was in the booth and held a Q-and-A with Homa as he played the 13th hole. Homa went on to win.
NBC also did the walk-and-talk with a player during the six weeks leading to the Masters.
But the Masters?
There was McIlroy, going so far as to tell viewers his yardage and what club he would be hitting into the ninth green.
— Golf on CBS ⛳ (@GolfonCBS) April 6, 2023
McIlroy said it wasn’t a distraction because the interview was conducted through an earpiece rather than having someone place a microphone in front of him as he walked, so it felt more natural.
“It’s nice to provide the audience at home a little bit more insight into what’s going on out here,” McIlroy said.
He wasn’t surprised when he was approached by Masters officials earlier this week about doing the interview.
“I think since Chairman (Fred) Ridley has come along, he’s really tried to push the envelope as well,” McIlory said. “So I think Augusta has a great balance of blending that history and that tradition but also making sure we’re keeping up with the times.”
Homa, no stranger to putting himself out there on social media, is in favor of the move.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 6, 2023
“It does feel like that’s a good way to maybe gain some perspective for the fans to enjoy golf a little bit easier,” Homa said.