AUGUSTA, Ga. – For weeks players have been talking about the damage done to Augusta National by a February ice storm that felled many of the iconic club’s pine trees, as well as the famous Eisenhower Tree adjacent to the 17th fairway.
“The ice storm just blitzed the course,” Nick Faldo said following a practice round with his son on Sunday at Augusta National. “It’s considerably thinner. (No.) 10 looks way different and right of the 11th there are so many trees with snapped tops.”
From the hill behind the clubhouse you could see the grandstands adjacent to the 15th green because of missing limbs.
“That’s what Rory (McIlroy) was telling me, you can see straight through the golf course now,” said Dave Stockton Sr., McIlroy’s putting coach and a 12-time Masters participant.
But the most compelling difference was the absence of the Eisenhower Tree, a loblolly pine that guarded the left side of the 17th fairway for decades.
“It’s still a very narrow fairway where the drive finishes,” said defending champion Adam Scott. “I don’t know if it’s going to play easier, we’ll see at the end of the week when I guess all those averages are calculated. I still think it’s a very demanding hole and I think it’s a challenging hole to finish out a golf tournament.’’