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ESPN, CBS will try to make coverage of a November Masters par for the course

Fall leaves frame the scene while Bryson DeChambeau

Fall leaves frame the scene while Bryson DeChambeau works on his putting on the 13th green during his practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020, in Augusta. Credit: TNS/Curtis Compton

This Masters will have television coverage unlike any other, naturally.

The event will move to November with some familiar trappings of April, including Tiger Woods, Jim Nantz and lovingly presented camera shots. But much else will be missing, including fans.

It should be interesting, which it will have to be to attract not-exactly-golf-season eyeballs in a nation otherwise distracted by pandemic, politics and pigskin.

"I think it's just so strange, not in a bad way, but just unusual," ESPN host Scott Van Pelt said.

Speaking of ESPN and the calendar-bending strangeness of this year’s Masters, on Saturday "College GameDay" will emanate from Augusta National.

Van Pelt called it "a cool concept," but promised the often-raucous pregame football show will show due respect to its surroundings.

"You're not going to see them show up and have marching bands up and down the fairways and things of that nature," he said. "You know where you are.

"You're at one of the most storied golf venues on the planet and at an event that there's a certain level of decorum that's understood."

On Sunday, the final round will start earlier than usual with the goal of a 3 p.m. Eastern Time finish, perhaps 4 if there is a playoff.

Two uncommon factors are at play there: It gets dark earlier in mid-November than in early April, and unlike in April, there are late-afternoon NFL games to show.

No one is more associated with the television side of the event than Nantz, who again will host for CBS.

The ultimate Masters traditionalist, he acknowledged the differences in this year’s tournament but believes that come Sunday afternoon, much of that will take a back seat to the competition.

"We’ve had a lot of experience with 11 tournaments this summer," Nantz said. "But when you watch it on television, TV normalizes things in such an incredible way.

"I know the story lines coming in have to do with November versus April, no patrons versus having fans in April. But I really believe, when we get the competition started, it’s going to feel like the Masters. All these pretournament stories about what’s different about it I believe are going to get washed away.

"I believe on Sunday, we’re going to be talking about the pivotal moments and the drama and how another remarkable script is unfolding before us. It may not quite sound the same and look the same, but it’s the Masters and it’s going to be great."

CBS plans to experiment with new camera angles, as many sports productions have done in the absence of fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Live drone shots also are a possibility.

ESPN will televise the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday from 1 to 5:30 p.m.

"College GameDay" will originate from the Par 3 course on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

CBS, which will broadcast the event for the 65th consecutive year, will carry the third round on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and the final round from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Nantz, covering his 35th Masters in a row — he has said his long-term goal is to do 50 of them — will be joined by lead analyst Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion.

"Masters Live" will provide additional livestreaming coverage of featured holes and the like.

New York Sports