Mickelson: Augusta softens Nos. 8, 16

Phil Mickelson during the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Phil Mickelson during the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.

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DORAL, Fla. – The season’s first major championship is just a month away, but the players could find a kinder and gentler Augusta National when they play in the 75th Masters.

Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, said changes to the greens at the par-5 eighth and the par-3 16th have softened some of the hole locations, making it potentially easier to attack the pins in the April 5-8 tournament.

“After looking at them, I think that some of the more challenging pin placements on those greens were softened a little bit, and made to be not quite as difficult,” Mickelson said Wednesday after a scouting mission earlier in the week at Augusta. “I’m not saying it’s good, bad, indifferent.”

No. 8, named Yellow Jasmine, has played as one of the easiest holes at Augusta National, with a cumulative stroke average since 1942 of 4.85, ranked 15th in difficulty. The 16th hole, called Redbud, proves to be one of the most difficult holes at the Masters, playing to a cumulative 3.16 stroke average to rank sixth on the course.

“There were bigger plateaus up on the top right on 16,” Mickelson said. “The green on eight in the front was widened. The hill on the left was softened. So little things that I felt like the back-right pin on eight was made much more accessible. It’s much flatter, a lot more room there. You can be a little bit more aggressive now into that pin. So, it was interesting.”

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