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Hole-by-hole look at Masters history

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The Masters Tournament is unique for many reasons, not least of which is that it’s the only men’s major to be held on the same course every year. And although annual course differences are noticeable and will be widely discussed, Augusta National GC plays similarly year after year. The first hole is hard; the second not so much. The eighth and 13th holes have been among the tournament’s four easiest holes each of the last 10 years. The 11th hole has always been among the three most difficult during that span.

Such consistency makes it easy to evaluate the winners and to know what a player has to do to become a Masters champion. What are some of the notable performances by winners at each hole? Here are some examples. And click here for a photographic look at all 18 holes at Augusta National.

Hole No. 1, par 4, 445 yards, Tea Olive: How important is it for the eventual winner to get off to a good start in the tournament? Not as much as you might think. Tea Olive is one of the most difficult par 4s on the course and perhaps – given its annual position as the opening hole in the first major of the year – the most daunting in all of golf. Since World War II, 13 eventual champions made bogey or worse on their opening hole of the week; just seven made birdie. In fact, Tiger Woods made bogey on his first hole of the week in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and still won the tournament. In his four Masters wins, Woods is 3 over par on No. 1.

Hole No. 2, par 5, 575 yards, Pink Dogwood: If No. 1 is the most daunting hole Masters competitors face, the second hole brings a sigh of relief. It’s one of the easier holes on the course and the eventual champion takes advantage. Only four champions since World War II have been over par on the second hole, including Adam Scott in 2013, who bogeyed the hole in Round 1 and made three pars thereafter. Scott was the first champion to be over par on the second hole since Jack Nicklaus in 1963. Ralph Guldahl, the 1939 champ, played it the best, with an eagle and three birdies.

Hole No. 3, par 4, 350 yards, Flowering Peach: The shortest par 4 on the course, the third hole has been a birdie hole for Masters champions this century. Since 2001, 10 Masters winners have made two birdies or more on No. 3. Prior to 2001, only four champions made two birdies on the third hole. In 2011, Charl Schwartzel became the first Masters champion to eagle No. 3 when he jarred his approach from 114 yards in the final round.

Hole No. 4, par 3, 240 yards, Flowering Crab Apple (above): Historically, one of the toughest holes at Augusta National, No. 4 is the longest par 3 on the course and since it was lengthened by 30-35 yards prior to 2006, no Masters champion has been under par for the week. The last winner to play the fourth hole under par was Woods, who made one birdie and three pars in 2001.

Hole No. 5, par 4, 455 yards, Magnolia: Call this uphill, dogleg left the Trevor Immelman hole, for it’s where the 2008 Masters champion made his bones. The South African was 3 under for the week on No. 5, one of 11 players all-time (and the only champion) to make that score. Immelman was the only player in the top 10 in 2008 to play the fifth hole under par. In fact, No. 5 played slightly over par for the week and if Immelman had followed suit and made par all four rounds, he would have finished tied with Tiger Woods.

Hole No. 6, par 3, 180 yards, Juniper: The easiest par 3 on the course, Gay Brewer had no trouble with Juniper in 1967, making birdie there in each of the first three rounds. That he “only” made par on Sunday can’t hide the fact he owned the hole, and his birdies were the difference in Brewer’s one-stroke win over Bobby Nichols.

Hole No. 7, par 4, 450 yards, Pampas: An interesting change has occurred on the seventh hole, which was lengthened by about 40 yards in 2002 and 2006. Despite the added distance, not one Masters champion made a bogey on Pampas from 2002-13. But since 2014, the winner has made at least one bogey on the hole every year, with Jordan Spieth making two in 2015.

Hole No. 8, par 5, 570 yards, Yellow Jasmine: Eight Masters champions have played the eighth hole in 4 under par or better, including Horton Smith in the inaugural Masters in 1934. Smith went eagle-birdie-par-birdie on what was then the 17th hole as the nines were reversed that year. In 1979, Fuzzy Zoeller was 5 under on No. 8 with an eagle and three birdies. Billy Casper made double bogey in the final round in 1970. He is one of four champions with a 7 on his scorecard. The others: Gary Player, 13th hole, fourth round in 1961; Jack Nicklaus, 15th hole, second round in 1972; and Craig Stadler, second hole, third round in 1982.

Hole No. 9, par 4, 460 yards, Carolina Cherry (above): This was one of the holes lengthened prior to 2002 in what was then considered to be Augusta’s first “Tiger-proofing,” but Woods made sure the added distance didn’t impact his play. Although most Masters champions since 2002 have played the ninth hole in even par, Woods found his groove in 2005 and made three birdies and a par en route to his playoff win over Chris DiMarco. Five years earlier, Woods bogeyed the ninth hole in the opening round to complete a 4-over-par first nine and is the most recent champion to post a 40 on either the first or second nine.

Hole No. 10, par 4, 495 yards, Camellia: Seven players in Masters history have played the par-4 10th hole in 3 under for the week, only one of them a champion. Spieth made three birdies on Camellia en route to his first Masters title, and was the first player to birdie the first hole of the second nine in the final round since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. Special mention should go to Adam Scott, who in 2013 became the first player in Masters history to win a playoff with a birdie on No. 10.

Hole No. 11, par 4, 505 yards, White Dogwood: Although there have been six 2’s in Masters history on the par-4 11th hole, the most famous hole-out was for a 3. In 1987, Larry Mize won on the second playoff hole when he chipped in for birdie from 140 feet to defeat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros and become the first Augusta native to win the Masters. Mize also birdied the 11th hole in the first round, and had three pars thereafter.

Hole No. 12, par 3, 155 yards, Golden Bell: The shortest hole on the course is also one of the hardest. It’s so tough that two champions – Ballesteros in 1980 and Sandy Lyle in 1988 – made double bogey in the final round and still won. Conversely, Arnold Palmer was 2 under on the 12th hole in 1962; Nicklaus reached the same score in 1972 and 1975; and Phil Mickelson did it in 2004. 

Hole No. 13, par 5, 510 yards, Azalea (above): The 13th hole is often one of Augusta’s easiest, and the Masters champion usually plays it as such, although you wouldn’t tell from the last two years when Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia were even par on Azalea. Spieth, however, made four birdies there in 2015, one of 13 champions who were 4 under or better on the hole. Jimmy Demaret, in 1950, and Mickelson, in 2010, both made two eagles and two birdies for a spectacular 6-under-par total on No. 13. Four champions have made eagle on 13 in the final round: Byron Nelson (1937), Guldahl (1939), Palmer (1958), and Bernhard Langer (1993).

Hole No. 14, par 4, 440 yards, Chinese Fir: Mickelson, in 2010, is the only winner to make eagle on No. 14 during his championship year, when he holed out from 139 yards in the third round. Mickelson was 3 under on No. 14 for the week, the first winner with that score on the hole since Tom Watson in 1981.

Hole No. 15, par 5, 530 yards, Firethorn: The final par-5 hole on Augusta National has been the easiest hole on the course four times since 2006, when it was lengthened 25-30 yards. But a shot from the Masters’ infancy is what this hole is best remembered for. It’s where Gene Sarazen made his famous double eagle in the final round in 1935, his 235-yard, 4-wood shot immortalized by Herbert Warren Wind, who wrote, “there had never before been a shot in an important tournament as sensational as that double eagle.” Sarazen played No. 15 in 6 under for the week, with birdies in each of the first three rounds. In recent years, Woods, in 2002, Phil Mickelson, in 2006, and Sergio Garcia, in 2017, played the hole in 4 under, with Garcia making eagle in the final round in 2017.

Hole No. 16, par 3, 170 yards, Redbud: This water hole was the site of an incredible performance by Craig Wood in 1941, when he made three birdies en route to a three-stroke win over Nelson. Since then, only eight players have been 2 under par on the hole, including Nicklaus in 1986 and Schwartzel, who remains the only winner to birdie the last four holes in the final round, in 2011.

Hole No. 17, par 4, 440 yards, Nandina (above): The 17th is not a hole of wild swings. It’s the ninth toughest hole on Augusta National with an average score just .16 strokes above par. The difference between the best and worst scores on the hole is only five strokes (2 to 7), the smallest of any hole. The champions are just as clustered toward the center. Since World War II, 64 of 73 winners were between 1 over and 1 under on 17. The biggest outlier was Watson in 1981 (3 over par), who made bogey and a rare double en route to his second Masters victory. Schwartzel, in 2011, is the only winner this century to birdie the hole in the final round.

Hole No. 18, par 4, 465 yards, Holly: Augusta National’s closing hole – an uphill, dogleg right – has had its share of memories, most recently Garcia’s playoff birdie to win his first major title in 2017. Nineteen Masters champions have made birdie on the 72nd hole of the tournament, with six players winning by that one stroke and two (Mize in 1987 and Scott in 2013) eventually winning in a playoff. In 1959, Art Wall Jr., played the last six holes in 5 under par to win by one. Wall, Palmer, in 1960, and Mark O’Meara, in 1998, are the only single-stroke winners who made birdies on the tournament’s 71st and 72nd holes. The only champion to bogey the 71st and 72nd holes and still win was Woods in 2005. Woods’ mini-collapse (after his sensational birdie on 16) dropped him into a playoff with DiMarco, but Tiger made birdie on the 18th hole his second time around for his most recent Masters title.