Augusta National gets tricked up, still gives up scores

masters pin sheet Geoff Shackelford/Golfweek

Augusta National gets tricked up, still gives up scores

Masters

Augusta National gets tricked up, still gives up scores

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Cup and Tee Marker Placement Committee dug into their bag of tricks on day one of the Masters to fend off a birdie onslaught. For a while, they contained scoring with help from Mother Nature’s swirling winds.

But as the already slow-for-Augusta greens slowed and the winds calmed down, the course yielded a 72.874 scoring average, with 28 of 87 players posting rounds under par. For perspective, the record first round came 10 years ago when 38 of 96 were in red numbers.

“About as tough as they can get,” Nick Faldo noted of the flagstick locations during the broadcast in response to Peter Kostis declaring the hole locations as the most difficult 18-hole set he’d seen in years.

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The benign-sounding group in charge of setup sounds like a committee Lord Grantham might have headed. Yet outside of Paul Casey (78), Justin Rose (76) and Jordan Spieth (76) posting tournament-killing rounds, players noticed their efforts to defend the course.

“I just felt it was very hard to get it near any of the pins through the first seven holes, whether I was just slightest out of position or the pins were just tough,” Adam Scott said after a 69 that featured birdies on the final three holes.

Scott finished before Brooks Koepka posted 66 on top of Bryson DeChambeau’s same co-leading score.

“Those pins on 8 and 14 seem to be getting closer and closer to the edges,” he continued. “So it wasn’t that easy to give yourself many chances. And I’m seeing that by the scoring being held back a little even though you don’t get better conditions, really.”

Ian Poulter joined in singling out the 14th as “interesting” and said after this opening 68 that the pin essentially required a lay-up to one very small part of that massive green, with only hope of a two putt.

As tucked as the cups were, Tiger Woods still saw a vulnerable Augusta National. While he reached -3 and tied for the lead at one point, Woods now sits at T11 and undoubtedly aware that the last 13 Masters winners were all in the top 10 after day one.

“I thought that today was, as hot as it was, the ball was flying a long way and to take advantage of it,” Woods said.

For players to so openly bring up the number of edgy locations at the Masters suggests there will be lively locker room conversations about the Cup and Tee Committee’s efforts to defend Augusta National from a total onslaught.

But that what was bound to happen after a wet course takes on even more rain and no amount of “Sub Air” work can dry out the greens.

The Cup and Tee Placement got it right and they have a stout top 10 to prove it, even if their efforts raised a few eyebrows.

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