Notes Kinder Gentler Fourth Hole

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters showed some compassion Friday, moving the tees forward on the 240-yard fourth hole to the same location members use. It measured about 180 yards, and most players were hitting 5- and 6-irons instead of fairway metals.
 
Then again, the pin was back and to the right.
 
'Surprisingly, should I say, easy,' Ernie Els said with a laugh. 'The flag was top right. I saw the flags this morning before I went out, and I was praying that they had the tees up. It was up. I hit 7-iron in there, so it was fine.'
 
It still was no picnic.
 
Vijay Singh was leading the tournament when he hit a 6-iron that he thought was perfect, just right of the flag. But it was a tad too strong, hopped hard off the slope behind the green and went into the bushes, leading to double bogey.
 
And there was the wind.
 
Robert Allenby hit 6-iron over the green and into the bushes to make bogey. Tiger Woods hits his irons about the same distance, so he picked a 6-iron and came up short into the bunker, also making bogey.
 
Imagine trying to guess which club to hit -- and how far it would go -- with a 5-wood.
 
'To that pin with the wind conditions today, it would have been just brutal to figure out what club to hit,' Woods said.
 
The hole played easier than the first round, when the pin was back left and the hole played 248 yards. The average score Friday was 3.1, compared with 3.25 the first round. There were 12 birdies Friday, only four birdies Thursday.
 
COODY FAREWELL
Charles Coody went out on his own terms, and did he ever go out in style.
 
Coody, who held off Jack Nicklaus to win the 1971 Masters, decided when he arrived at Augusta National that this would be his final Masters. And when he opened with an 89 -- his worst round ever -- it looked as if he couldn't get out of town soon enough.
 
'Yesterday I played poorly,' Coody said. 'And today I played well.'
 
The 68-year-old Texan played so well that his 2-over 74 was his best score since 2000. And he didn't even finish last, beating 26-year-old Charles Howell III by one shot.
 
Coody finished with a 15-foot par save on the 18th hole.
 
'I'd like to be remembered as a nice guy and a fairly decent player,' Coody said. 'I know I'm not a Hall of Fame golfer. But nice guy and good family man, that would be good enough for me. And a halfway decent golfer.'
 
He actually was 1 under through the par-5 15th, but a bogey at 16 and double-bogey at 17 ruined his improbable bid to go out with a round in the red.
 
'I have a lot of respect for the tournament,' he said. 'That's one of the reasons I won't play anymore. I don't want to embarrass the tournament.'
 
BIG NUMBERS
Chris DiMarco holed out from the 18th fairway for eagle, Rory Sabbatini made eagle from the 11th fairway and Brandt Jobe made a 6-iron from the 10th fairway.
 
But for all those spectacular shots came some equally spectacular numbers.
 
David Duval made a 10 on the par-5 second hole, hitting into the woods three times, and one time hitting a stubby hazard stake he didn't even see. He hit everything but the fairway, matching Sam Byrd in 1948 for the highest score ever made on No. 2.
 
Jim Furyk was moving into contention until an 8 on the par-5 13th. Vijay Singh had just about every number covered during his strange round of 74 -- a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and a 7.
 
Perhaps the most embarrassing was Charles Howell III, who couldn't escape the back bunker on No. 11 and took 9 on his way to an 84, leaving him last among the 90 players at the Masters.
 
BACK FROM HOLIDAY
Darren Clarke walked off the first green Thursday and said with a smile and between puffs on his cigar, 'I'm still on holiday.'
 
Clarke was a late arrival for the Masters, and that was by design.
 
After The Players Championship, he went on vacation to Grand Abaco in the Bahamas, where he spent time with his cancer-stricken wife, Heather, and friends. Most of that time was spent bone fishing, although Clarke promised there would be a beer or three.
 
After a 2-under 70 on Friday that left him in a tie for fifth, he was asked about his game.
 
'Maybe it's got something to do with Abaco, where I was last week,' he said. 'I've forgotten what I should be doing and just gone out and hit it. And it's working.'
 
Clarke's wife first was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, although it now has spread throughout her body. It has given Clarke a new perspective about his career, and it showed when someone mentioned how relaxed he was.
 
'I'm hitting it nicely and I'll try to keep it going,' Clarke said. 'There are a lot of people who want to win this a lot more than I do. I would love to do it myself, but it's not that important.'
 
PERFECT PRESENTATION
At the Masters, they want everything just right.
 
Everything.
 
Joe Damiano, the caddie for Stuart Appleby, raked the front bunker on the par-3 12th hole and placed it where he found it, to the left of the trap. As the group left the green, an official emerged from the azaleas and straightened the rake so that it lay parallel to the bunker, instead of the 45-degree angle which Damiano left it.
 
About 30 minutes later, Sergio Garcia's caddie left the rake directly in front of the bunker -- shame on him. The official returned and neatly put it back in its spot.
 
THE HIGHS AND LOWS
Brandt Jobe got the best and worst of Augusta National on the back nine Friday.
 
Jobe made only the seventh eagle in Masters history on the par-4 10th hole, a 6-iron from 202 yards that he feared was headed for the bunker, but turned just enough to disappear into the cup.
 
'It's my first crystal,' said Jobe, noting that Augusta National awards crystal goblets for every eagle. 'When it went in, I about jumped up and down. It startled me.'
 
So did the par-5 15th, although that startled him for different reasons.
 
Jobe went over the green, then chipped down the slope and into the water on his way to a triple-bogey 8. He wound up with a 76 and was at 4-over 148, giving him two more days of this roller coaster.
 
DIVOTS
Nick O'Hern of Australia has his own cheering section this week. His father, Mel, is at Augusta National. It's his first trip to the United States. ... Chris DiMarco has missed the cut in his last two majors. ... While Charles Coody had the best turnaround by going 89-74, Mark Hensby's improvement meant more. He opened with an 80 and followed with a 67 to make the cut by one shot. ... Mike Weir and Arron Oberholser will be paired together for the first time since the final round at Pebble Beach, when they were tied for the lead. Oberholser shot 72 to win his first PGA Tour event, while Weir shot 78. Also paired together are Vijay Singh and Fred Couples, a rematch of sorts from the Presidents Cup, when Couples beat him on the 18th hole.
 
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