Even after 20 years, memories still tingle

Bob Warters's picture
Fri, 25 Mar 2011

I got my par with my second ball but I’m still amazed how the stroke index rates this the easiest hole on the course. Fail to get the ball on the correct spot on the green and as Ray Floyd once discovered, the wicked slopes can have you shaping up to your putt with your back to the hole!

A regulation bogey at 17 is followed by the daunting drive at 18 through a funnel of trees and how Woosie managed to fly those bunkers with a persimmon-headed driver the day before, is still a mystery.

From an elevated tee, the fairway swoops down 30 feetthen up to the right to a green that is normally surrounded by 20,000 colourful patrons with millions more watching on TV.

On this day it was deserted, apart from workmen dismantling the recorder’s box, but the cheers for the Welshman’s major-winning 10-foot par putt were still ringing through the trees. My three-footer for a five was my 54th stroke of the day, so far.

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The group ahead reached the first green by the time we mounted the tee in front of the distinctive Augusta clubhouse to start the front nine, which until a few years ago was given little coverage during the broadcast because of the organisers' reluctance to show more than the closing nine holes.

With its subtle borrows most Tour pros are relieved to get away with a par at the first and for me a bogey five felt like a birdie!

The second is a huge downhill par-5 over 500 yards and demands a blind tee shot over the brow of the hill. The green is 100 feet wide and less than 30-feet from front to back but still reckoned to be a give-away birdie for the pros. For a mere mortals like me,  I was happy to avoid the cavernous bunkers each side of a narrow opening and get out of there with a six.

Another shallow green perched 20 feet above the fairway is the main defence of the 360-yard third, while putting on the exposed par-3 fourth green was like rolling a ball on a boardroom table. My second putt from four-feet left me grateful to hole to 10-footer for double bogey coming back!

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