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The eclipse is all anyone talked about at The Masters

<i>Matt Slocum/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>American golfer Bubba Watson got in on the action.
Matt Slocum/AP via CNN Newsource
American golfer Bubba Watson got in on the action.

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — Play was suspended due to a very special brand of conditions at The Masters on Monday.

The total solar eclipse plunged Augusta National Golf Club into darkness shortly after 3 p.m. local time in Georgia, bringing the major’s first practice round to a standstill as players, caddies and patrons turned their gazes skyward.

Yet there was no need to bring your own eclipse eyewear to the fabled venue. All in attendance were provided with green Masters-branded solar viewing glasses to allow them to watch the celestial spectacle safely – a one-of-a-kind collector’s item from a tournament near-unrivaled for its memorabilia.

“I will be keeping those for absolutely the rest of my life,” American golfer Will Zalatoris, runner-up in 2021, told reporters.

“Those will be some collectables that will be in my office forever.”

After the partial eclipse began just before 2 p.m., maximum obscurity was reached at around 3:08 p.m. when an estimated 76% of the sun was covered by the moon.

Players scattered across the course gathered to watch the peak, with organizers promising that Amen Corner – a famed and feared three-hole stretch on the back-nine – would have the best view of the eclipse.

Amateur golfer Stewart Hagestad watched in the esteemed company of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler – though only after being provided with a pair of viewing glasses by one helpful young fan.

“I personally think those little moments are part of what makes the week so special,” Hagestad, 32, said. “There’s so many things that go into this week outside of the golf that you’ll remember.

“To have the little girl come over with the glasses and to basically be like, ‘Hey, check out the eclipse.’ Like that’s neat, right?

“I certainly didn’t make her day, but hopefully Scottie did. That stuff is really cool.”

While Georgia natives were treated to a total eclipse in 2017, only those who attended the sixth edition of The Masters 84 years ago can also claim to have seen the spectacle during tournament week.

Almost 90% of the sun was obscured during one point of the final round in 1940 before Jimmy Demaret went on to clinch his first of three green jackets.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget the ’24 eclipse happened on Monday at my first Masters – the two memories will be connected,” said Peter Malnati, who stamped his first ticket to the event at 36 years old after triumph at the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship last month.

“I’m kind of a nerd about stuff like this, too. I don’t understand science, but I love it,” he added.

Not all players were so sentimental about the event, however, namely reigning Open Championship winner Brian Harman, who had been locked in a playoff at a tournament during the North American eclipse seven years ago.

“This is timed up pretty good; get to watch the end of the world at Augusta National,” the American said, laughing.

While some golfers only donned solar glasses at the moment of maximum obscurity, others tracked many of their shots through the dim of their commemorative eyewear.

World No. 15 Sahith Theegala, at the 18th tee for prime viewing, switched to the glasses every 10 minutes.

“I made sure at 3:08 to look up. It was pretty wild,” he said.

“But for about 45 minutes, I tried to hit shots with my glasses on because … it felt hazy out there, and my eyes were almost hurting a little bit. But I was paying attention to it for sure. It’s fun.”

Canadian star Corey Conners went a step further, playing the entirety of his practice round with the glasses on without noticing much impact on his swing.

“I took them off for a moment and it did seem a little darker,” Conners added.

“Had a little look at the eclipse, and it was cool.”

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