Fergus Bisset looks at the impact of the differing pin positions at Augusta National - and how the pros attack them
HOLE 14 – CHINESE FIR
2014 Toughest Day: Round 2 – Avg. score 4.31, Rank 3rd (pin centre)
2014 Easiest Day: Round 4 – Avg. score 4.04, Rank 12th (pin right)
The green on this hole slopes viciously from its centre to the right side. So the most difficult pin position is when the flag is perched just at the top of that slope. Anything aimed just right of the flag will drift away to the bottom section of the green. If a ball misses the green long or left, the shot back is fraught with danger as, if struck too hard, it will fall away to the lower part of the putting surface. When the pin is on the right side, as it often is in round 4, it’s far more accessible. If a player is able to get the distance right, there’s a wide target to aim for, from where the ball will roll down towards the flag: One to attack for those in the chase on Sunday.
HOLE 16 – REDBUD
2014 Toughest Day: Round 3 – Avg. score 2.98, Rank 12th (pin front left)
2014 Easiest Day: Round 4 – Avg. score 2.73, Rank 16th (pin back right)
The green on this par-3 slopes hugely from right to left, so when the pin is on the left side (as it always is on the final day – think Tiger Wood’s miracle chip in 2005,) the ball will feed towards it. If a player gets the correct distance and doesn’t aim too far right, he’ll have a realistic birdie chance. When the pin is on the back right portion as it was in round 1 last year or the front right portion as in round 3, the tee shot must be extremely precise to avoid falling away from the cup and down the slope. Right pins require the player to land the ball within a few feet of the flag on either side to avoid a very tricky second.
HOLE 17 – NANDINA
2014 Toughest Day: Round 4 – Avg. score 4.37, Rank 2nd (pin front centre right)
2014 Easiest Day: Round 1 – Avg. score 4.18, Rank 11th (pin right)
This is one of the most challenging greens on the course and pin positioning makes a massive difference. In round 1 last year, the flag was situated on the right side – not only one of the flatter sections of the green but also its low point, so anything aimed just to the left of the flag fed towards it. When the pin is positioned just a little further to the left, the proposition is very different – anything missing to the right of the flag feeds away to the low point of the green. Anything long or further left leaves a devilish pitch or long putt down to a pin sitting on a precipice – just too firm and the ball runs away to the green edge, too timid and the player will face the same problem with the next shot. The pin is so tough to get at when it’s in this position that there was only one birdie in the final round last year, by Justin Rose.