AUGUSTA, Ga. – Two of the biggest topics this week at the Masters aren’t even at Augusta National – Tiger Woods and the Eisenhower Tree.
While many of the longer hitters in the field have lamented the loss of the iconic loblolly pine that cast a huge presence on the 17th hole, PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner – an average-length hitter by today’s standards – is not sad to see it go.
“I was excited,” Dufner said. “For me, it’s hard to get it over that tree easily. If I have a little bit of a hook on it, that tree comes into play, so I always had to play right of it. I don’t know if it will make it easier, but visually it will be a lot easier.”
Dufner, playing in his fourth Masters, says he feels more comfortable around Augusta National than ever before. In previous years he said he’d tinker with his clubs to assure he had the proper club for any difficult shot he knew he’d face. But he learned a valuable lesson.
“I remember one year I was trying to figure out how to play the fourth hole, which is a very difficult par 3,” he said. “I had this special club that was going to fly between 225 and 230, and I’m all locked in, excited about it.
“Then we get there and it’s playing straight downwind and the club goes over the back of the green.”