Golf: Where strategy beats strength: Robert Green studies the hole that is lucky for some

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The Independent Online
IN many respects, the celebrated 13th at Augusta National is the perfect par five, even though, at 465 yards, it is par- four length. It demands strategy rather than brute strength: a drive into the correct angle of the dogleg to give the player an opportunity to go for the green in two.

Anything less than a good drive and the temptation to go for the carry over the creek remains but the chances of executing the shot successfully are diminished. Since a swale was put in to the left and back of the green in 1984, anyone laying up in two had better be accurate with his third shot if he is not going to turn a potential birdie into a bogey.

Stories of how the destiny of the Masters has been decided at the 13th are legion. Here are some notable examples:

1937 Ralph Guldahl played the 12th and 13th in 5-6; doublebogey, bogey. Byron Nelson came along and played them in 2-3 to beat Guldahi by two shots.

1939 Guldahl got even with the 13th. He took the lead with an eagle there and never relinquished it.

1954 Billy Joe Patton, a top-ranked American amateur, had a hole-in-one at the sixth in the final round and led the field as he stood on the 13th tee. Boldly, foolishly, he went for the green with his second shot, dunked it in the creek and made seven. He finished a shot off the play-off in which Sam Snead beat Ben Hogan.

1959 Arnold Palmer did what Guldahl had done in 1939 - made an eagle on the hole and won the title by a stroke.

1978 Tsuneyuki ('Tommy') Nakajima of Japan ran up the worst score in the hole's history, and the worst anywhere in the Masters: a horribly symmetrical 13.

1980 Seve Ballesteros went in the water at both the 12th and 13th but had enough shots in hand to win by four. Six years later, it seemed his eagle at the 13th would clinch victory, but then he found the drink at the 15th and let Jack Nicklaus in.

1985 Curtis Strange looked to have the title in his grasp, but he visited the water on the 13th (and the 15th) and took six both times. Bernhard Langer made birdie fours at each hole and won by two. In the third round, Langer had launched his bid for the green jacket in earnest with a fortunate eagle at the 13th - his second shot skipped over the creek and he holed from six yards for an eagle.

1993 The hole proved pivotal in securing Langer's triumph last year. The German's eagle on the Sunday stretched his lead over Chip Beck to three shots, and he eventually won by four.