Augusta National is one of the most challenging courses a player is likely to face in a PGA Tour season. It claimed many victims at the 2013 Masters, but not everyone struggled to post low scores on its most challenging holes.
Amen Corner is typically the most daunting three-hole stretch at Augusta, and while both No. 11 and No. 12 didn’t produce a lot of low numbers, No. 13 ranked the fourth-easiest hole at the Masters this year.
Augusta’s front nine proved to be far more challenging than its final nine holes, providing four of the five most difficult tests for its challengers, including the par-three fourth that yielded a +0.39 scoring average for the tournament.
Adam Scott wouldn’t have won the Masters without playing well on many of those holes, and the same holds true for second-place finisher Angel Cabrera and third-place finisher Jason Day. Each played consistently well throughout the tournament, besting Augusta’s most formidable holes.
We’ll take a look at the course’s most difficult holes and break down how each top finisher fared in facing them.
No. 4 “Flowering Crab Apple”
The par-three fourth was an absolutely devastating hole for many golfers at the Masters. Playing at 240 yards with bunkers protecting the front of the putting surface, Flowering Crab Apple requires golfers to attack the green with a long iron off the tee, effectively taking precision out of the equation.
No. 4 produced just 10 birdies—by far the lowest total for any hole at Augusta. Combined with 103 bogeys and the fifth most double bogeys (10), No. 4 proved to be an insurmountable test this year.
Scott played Flowering Crab Apple at one over for the tournament, posting three pars and a bogey through four rounds. Not coincidentally, he finished with just one round of 70 or higher, and it came on the same day he bogeyed No. 4.
Cabrera’s performance on No. 4 was identical to Scott’s—no surprise given the neck-and-neck nature of their two-hole playoff. He came away with three pars and a bogey, the latter coming on Day 2 of the tournament.
The correlation between Day 2 performance at No. 4 and the final standings at the Masters is purely coincidental, but it’s certainly an interesting note. Day also bogeyed the par-three fourth on Friday but came away with a par on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
No. 1 “Tea Olive”
Nothing about No. 1 would ordinarily represent major problems for its challengers, but Tea Olive proved to be the second most challenging hole at Augusta last week. With a +0.29 scoring average and the second most bogeys of any hole on the course (94), the par-four first wasn’t a good springboard for a quality round.
Because of the small tournament field, each golfer started out at No. 1 instead of the typical staggered start at both clubhouse holes. Producing a quality round started with a good performance at Tea Olive.
Scott didn’t fare well at No. 1 on Thursday (one over), but he bounced back with a par on both Friday and Saturday and a birdie on Sunday. That birdie propelled him to a final-round 69 and the first green jacket ever won by an Australian golfer.
Cabrera played a lot of holes under par, but No. 1 wasn’t one of them. The 43-year-old began Day 1 with a bogey and failed to regain that stroke throughout the final three rounds. Still, three pars are more than a lot of players could pin on Tea Olive.
Day got off to a tremendous start Sunday, firing a birdie on No. 1 and an eagle on No. 2. A strong start often perpetuates confidence, and the Australian seemed to have plenty of it after walking away from Augusta’s opening hole with a three. Unfortunately, bogeys at No. 16 and No. 17 took the 25-year-old out of title contention.
No. 11 “White Dogwood”
The longest of Augusta’s par fours, No. 11 played at 505 yards and bucked the trend of relatively short—albeit windy—par fours at Augusta.
White Dogwood is the introduction hole to Amen Corner, and it proves why the three-hole stretch is among the most foreboding of the entire course. With a scoring average of +0.28 and the second most double bogeys of the tournament (16), getting past No. 11 with a par or better was a small victory with No. 12 and No. 13 closing in.
A bunker and a pong shroud the putting surface at the 15th, meaning accuracy off the tee (down a tight fairway) is essential to setting up a quality approach shot. Not everyone fared well on the hole, but the tournament leaders didn’t seem to have much trouble.
Making a move at the Masters is all about picking spots. Birdies are important, but gaining strokes isn’t always possible. Sometimes a par is good enough to keep a round alive.
The 2013 champion took that philosophy to heart, walking away from White Dogwood with a par each round. Scott posted just six bogeys for the tournament, and none were on a hole following No. 11.
Cabrera experienced his share of trouble at Amen Corner, including a bogey at No. 11 on Day 1. The Argentinian went on to par it each of the next three days, however, going on to play the final six holes at five under on Day 2 to set up his move up the leaderboard.
Augusta’s finishing holes were Day’s biggest challenges last week. Despite playing No. 11 at one under for the tournament, five bogeys on the course’s three finishing holes took him out of contention by the end of the Masters.
Few players took on White Dogwood and came away victorious, but Day’s performance on the hole highlighted his immense potential as a winning golfer. If he can continue his dominance on Augusta’s toughest holes in the future, Australia may not have to wait very long to claim another Masters champion.