AP NEWS

The usual suspects: Difficult holes made worse by wind

April 7, 2017

Amen Corner did it again – more specifically No. 11 did. It’s where Thomas Pieters’ round started to came undone when he came up well short of the green with his approach and then two-putted for bogey once he got on the green. Adam Scott missed an 8-foot putt that would’ve saved par, and Phil Mickelson did the same from nearly the exact same spot on the green.

A section of Augusta National that is brutal enough, was made tougher on a day when wind made the slightest miscue extra costly.

“The 11th hole is probably the hardest hole,” Fred Couples said. “The 11th hole is incredible.”

Couples and his playing partners Kevin Na and Paul Casey each made par on the hole, but they had to work for it. Each of the golfers missed the green, but relied on their short game to bail them out. The hole played as the second toughest on the round.

Pieters called his approach on 11 the toughest shot he hit all day, and it showed. The shot came up 43 yards short of the pin, and he failed to get up-and-down for par.

“Wind’s hard off the right and you know if you hit it straight it’s in the water, so you have to curve it. That was probably my worst shot of the day.”

For Scott, the missed 8-footer was a sign of a bigger problem across the entire course.

“I don’t think it could’ve been worse for me today,” Scott said. “I would’ve liked to putt a little better from 10 feet – 6 to 10 feet – but it’s just very difficult when that wind is blowing so hard and you don’t have complete control over the golf ball.”

Overall, Scott said the rain that moved through on Wednesday was a saving grace because the greens were a bit softer, which made the other conditions a little more tolerable.

Pieters and many others found out the hard way how difficult the wind made Amen Corner. He lost three shots on the stretch of holes, and a round that looked promising turned into one that was commonplace on Thursday.

“If you catch the wrong gust at the wrong time, then you look stupid. Like I did on 12,” Pieters said. “But that’s just Augusta, I guess.”

The most famed section of the course wasn’t the only problem area. Not many got off to a flying start on Thursday. The only hole to play tougher than No. 11 was No. 1. The first hole only yielded one birdie, and that was the result of a 41-foot putt by James Hahn.