Augusta National’s revamped fifth hole was a source of concern as megastar Tiger Woods, top-ranked Justin Rose and bookies’ favorite Rory McIlroy made final preparations Wednesday on the eve of the 83rd Masters.
Located in Augusta, Georgia, the club, which opened for play in 1933, is one of the world’s most famous.
As the field of 87 played their final practice rounds before the year’s first major tournament begins Thursday morning, tension mounted
“If I’m at a venue too long, sometimes I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof,” world number one Justin Rose said. “By Wednesday, I want to get started.”
Third-ranked McIlroy, a four-time major champion, can complete a career Grand Slam by winning his first green jacket this week.
Woods, a 14-time major champion seeking his fifth Masters triumph and first major win since the 2008 US Open, is the highest-ranked player to win the Masters at 12th.
Rose, the 2013 US Open winner and twice a Masters runner-up, has never missed a cut in 13 starts at Augusta National but sees every year as a new challenge under the Georgia pines.
“It’s a new body of work,” Rose said. “The golf course doesn’t know how I’ve done here. I’ve got to step up on the first tee on Thursday and build something new.”
Augusta National has already built something new at the par-4 fifth hole by moving back the tee 40 yards, relocating the bunkers and rebuilding the green to offer a tough new pin placement.
“Number five is probably going to play the toughest hole now for sure,” Rose said.
Now the hole plays 495 yards and delivers a shotmaking challenge similar to that envisioned by designers of the 86-year-old layout.
“We believe this change maintains the original shot philosophy of Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.
In addition to moving the fifth tee across what had been a neighboring road, the club rebuilt the 18th green – in each case making the changes appear part of the natural landscape.
“It’s just amazing,” Woods said. “Over all the years I’ve been here, every time they make a change, it seems like it has been here for 100 years. It just looks exactly like it has always been here. Number five is no exception and 18 looks immaculate.”
– with reporting by AFP