Paul Casey insisted the Masters “still has a buzz to it” despite no fans being in attendance as he took the lead on Thursday.
The Englishman carded a seven-under 65 at a weather-hit Augusta to take a two-stroke lead as the first round was suspended due to darkness.
Casey’s 65 tied his lowest career score at a major as he led Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele.
While no fans are in attendance in Georgia due to the coronavirus pandemic, Casey said he could still feel the buzz at the Masters.
“This is something I’ve looked forward to. I was vocal earlier in the year at Harding Park about not enjoying golf in a pandemic,” he told a news conference.
“I’m acutely aware I’m in a very fortuitous position. I still get to be a professional golfer and play championship golf, but I didn’t know how the fan-less experience would be. And so far, I’ve not enjoyed it, and I’ve lacked I felt like the lack of energy for me. I’ve had nothing or very little to draw from being out playing tournament golf.
“The Masters, though, this week, it still has a buzz to it. There’s an energy and a little bit of a vibe. Yes, it’s clearly a lot less than what we are used to, but there’s something about this place that is still, I felt excited to be here.”
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 12, 2020
Casey is again well-placed to be in contention, having finished as runner-up at the US PGA Championship earlier this year for his 10th top-10 result at a major.
The 43-year-old said the history of the Masters made the tournament special.
“The golf course itself is part of it. The history of this championship, this tournament. So many people like myself are just excited to play this. You know, this is a treat,” Casey said.
“It always has been and always will be a real treat. There’s many great golfers who are not here this week because they are not high enough in the rankings or how they didn’t qualify, and they are envious of every single player in the field. So for me, it’s not lost on me.”
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