Aussie Smith, PGA champ Morikawa excited for Masters fans

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Australia’s Cameron Smith plays a shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on 15 November 2020.
Australia’s Cameron Smith plays a shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on 15 November 2020.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

History-making Masters runner-up Cameron Smith of Australia and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa are excited to see Augusta National's plans for limited spectators at the major showdown in three months' time.

Augusta National chairperson Fred Ridley announced the club's plan to allow a limited number of fans to attend the 85th Masters on 8-11 April with Covid-19 safety measures in place.

"We miss the fans out here every week," Smith said on Tuesday. "I feel as though the atmosphere around there was obviously down this year.

"It's such a unique place in that you can hear everything that's going on throughout whole course. I think if we get a few out there, it will definitely make a difference."

Morikawa, a 23-year-old American, captured his first major title last August at Harding Park in San Francisco and hoped the Masters plans might signal a gradual return for fans across all PGA Tour events.

"It's obviously encouraging," he said. "I think all these tournaments are going to start bringing fans back, whether it's limited capacity or a certain amount per day.

"We're always going to follow the right rules. PGA Tour has built a system, and I'm sure the Masters have built a system right now with everyone else to make sure this doesn't get out of hand.

"We still need to watch ourselves on what we do and where we're going to be going, but for the most part, slowly to start seeing fans, it's going to be really exciting."

Smith, who defends his title at the PGA Sony Open in Hawaii starting on Thursday, shared second last November at the virus-postponed Masters with South Korea's Im Sung-jae, five strokes behind US winner Dustin Johnson.

The 27-year-old from Brisbane became the first player in Masters history with four rounds in the 60s, going 67-68-69-69 over the legendary par-72 layout, and is excited about his game with an Augusta return in three months.

"My short game and my putting is in a really good spot," he said. "I feel like I can make the putts when I need to make the putts. I just need to hit it closer, basically.

"If I can get my longer stuff, and especially my irons, into a good spot, I'll be able to compete every week."

Morikawa, whose father's family is from Hawaii, seeks his fourth career PGA title after the 2019 Barracuda Championship, the PGA and last July's Workday Charity Open one-off event, played on the same course as the Memorial the week before as a Covid-19 replacement event.

"Having family out here, my entire dad's side, it makes things a little more special and makes it feel more like home even though I never lived here," Morikawa said. "It's all part of it. Any time you have a tie to location or a golf course, it just makes you want to kind of win at that location a little more."

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