There is a rule about not running at the Augusta National – they’re guaranteed to stop you if you try – but there was a moment at the seventh tee today when Tiger Woods had to break it and when he dashed away from there into the pine trees you really wondered whether he would actually be back.
He’d just shanked his tee shot badly – very badly – and he knew it so immediately that he did not even bother with the formality of completing his swing. His club slipped from his hands to the turf, and he slung it at Joe LaCava, his caddie, before bolting. A woman in a security suit assumed position at the path to dissuade anyone curious enough to follow him.
These were the moments out of camera range which revealed the full emotional tumult of Woods’ mindset yesterday and though it was a return which said that his 111th position in the world is no illusion, it must be said that was some accomplishment simply to have held it together. He slugged on, fought it out.
Masters 2016 - Augusta National hole-by-hole guide
Masters 2016 - Augusta National hole-by-hole guide
1/18 1st (Tea Olive), 445 yards, par four
deep bunker on the right of the fairway and trees both sides make for a daunting start, while long and left of the undulating green both spell big trouble. Unsurprisingly played the hardest hole on the course in 2012 and ranked second in 2013.
2015 average: 4.23 (rank 4)
2/18 2nd (Pink Dogwood), 575 yards, par five
Driving into the trees on the left cost Padraig Harrington a nine in 2009, but Louis Oosthuizen memorably holed his second shot for an albatross in the final round in 2012 before losing in a play-off to Bubba Watson. An important early birdie chance.
2015 average: 4.61 (rank 16)
3/18 3rd (Flowering Peach), 350 yards, par four
Shortest par four on the course but a pear-shaped green with steep slope in front allows for some wicked pin positions. Charl Schwartzel pitched in for eagle in the final round en route to title in 2011.
2015 average: 3.95 (rank 14)
4/18 4th (Flowering Crab Apple), 240 yards, par three
The back tee - not always used - turns it into a beast with the green sloping from back to front. Phil Mickelson took six here in the final round in 2012 and finished two shots outside the play-off. Jeff Sluman's ace in 1992 remains the only hole-in-one here in Masters history.
2015 average: 3.29 (rank 2)
5/18 5th (Magnolia), 455 yards, par four
Jack Nicklaus twice holed his second shot in 1995 and Colin Montgomerie did it in 2000, but it is another devilishly difficult green. To clear the fairway bunkers requires a 315-yard carry.
2015 average: 4.14 (rank 8)
6/18 6th (Juniper), 180 yards, par three
From a high tee to a green with a huge slope in it. Five holes-in-one - including Jamie Donaldson in 2013 - but Jose Maria Olazabal took seven in 1991 and lost by one to Ian Woosnam, while Arnold Palmer has also run up a seven.
2015 average: 3.08 (rank T10)
7/18 7th (Pampas), 450 yards, par four
What used to be a real birdie chance has been lengthened by 35-40 yards, while trees were also added and the putting surface reshaped. More bunkers - five - around the green than any other hole.
2015 average: 4.24 (rank 3)
8/18 8th (Yellow Jasmine), 570 yards, par five
The bunker on the right, about 300 yards out, pushes players left and from there it is harder to find the green in two up the steep hill. Still a good birdie chance and Bruce Devlin made an albatross two in 1967.
2015 average: 4.65 (rank 15)
9/18 9th (Carolina Cherry), 460 yards, par four
The tee was pushed back 30 yards in 2002. The raised green, with two bunkers on the left, tilts sharply from the back and anything rolling off the front can continue down for 50-60 yards.
2015 average: 4.08 (rank T10)
10/18 10th (Camellia), 495 yards, par four
A huge drop from tee to green on this dogleg left and over all the years of the Masters the most difficult hole. It was here that Rory McIlroy began to fall apart in 2011 with a seven, while Watson clinched the title in 2012 by making par in the play-off from the trees.
2015 average: 4.16 (rank 6)
11/18 11th (White Dogwood), 505 yards, par four
The start of Amen Corner. Toughest hole in 2011, 2014 and 2015, with the water front and left scaring many. Best remembered for Larry Mize's chip-in in 1987 and Nick Faldo's back-to-back play-off wins.
2015 average: 4.32 (rank 1)
12/18 12th (Golden Bell), 155 yards, par three
Probably the most famous par three in golf. Narrow target, water in front, trouble at the back, it has seen everything from a one to Tom Weiskopf's 13 in 1980. McIlroy four-putted it in 2011.
2015 average: 3.12 (rank 9)
13/18 13th (Azalea), 510 yards, par five
The end of Amen Corner. Massive dogleg left with scores ranging from Jeff Maggert's albatross two in 1994 to Tommy Nakajima's 13 in 1978. Bubba Watson's enormous drive here in 2014 left him with just a sand wedge into the green to set up a birdie.
2015 average: 4.54 (rank 18)
14/18 14th (Chinese Fir), 440 yards, par four
The only hole on the course without a bunker, but three putts are common on the wickedly difficult green. Course record holder Nick Price took eight here in 1993, while Phil Mickelson holed his approach en route to 2010 victory.
2015 average: 4.08 (rank 12)
15/18 15th (Firethorn), 530 yards, par five
Often a tough decision whether to go for the green in two across the pond on the hole where Gene Sarazen sank his 235-yard four-wood shot for an albatross in 1935. There have also been three 11s here.
2015 average: 4.60 (rank 17)
16/18 16th (Redbud), 170 yards, par three
Tiger Woods' memorable chip-in in 2005 came the same year as 73-year-old Billy Casper's 14, while Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter are among 15 players to record holes-in-one.
2015 average: 3.01 (rank 13)
17/18 17th (Nandina), 440 yards, par four
The famous Eisenhower Tree has been removed after suffering storm damage, making for an easier tee shot on the hole Justin Rose double-bogeyed when one off the lead in 2007. Jack Nicklaus birdied here to take the lead as he won his 18th major in 1986.
2015 average: 4.15 (rank 7)
18/18 18th (Holly), 465 yards, par four
The drive through an avenue of trees was made much harder when the tee was moved back 60 yards in 2002. The fairway bunker from which Sandy Lyle got up and down to win in 1988 is now 300 yards away.
2015 average: 4.21 (rank 5)
The landscape did not look pretty when Woods returned from the sanctuary of what you had to assume was a call of nature to assess the damage of that seventh tee shot, which was on the lower range of his own expectations, lodged in front of two pine trees just off the first fairway. He dispensed with the notion of punching out right onto the fairway, thumped his way with sheer force of clubhead speed to within 20 feet of the hole and almost rescued a par.
And this how it was for two hours and more, at virtually every hole of golf which confronted Woods. A momentary cause of hope, punctured by more vicissitudes. A clean strike from the tee at the tenth but an approach shot which left him down on his calves, groaning at the sight of his ball in the bunker. Sometimes the bad stuff came first.
An overhit approach shot over the left shoulder of the 11th green, confronting him with the short game demons which have been a source of such morbid fascination. But the short game did not desert him then – or at many other moments when the pips squeaked – and he chipped and putted, rock solid for par. Woods took a standing ovation from the bleachers at the 12th, proceeded to send his ball straight into Rae’s Creek and limited the damage. He found the semi-rough at the right of the 13th fairway and recovered. He was 60ft right of the pin with his second shot at the 14th – Tiger! he screamed across the wide acres – and two putted for par.
These are the everyday frustrations of a sportsman reaching for the best in his game at the time when it really counts and in the domain that matters above all other. But what Woods was being asked to come to terms with was his own mundanity. That misplaced shot at the tenth which slowed the progression around the 11th for Jamie Donaldson and Jimmy Walker, his playing partners, was broadly in the same line of miscalculation that we saw from the Korean amateur Gumm Yang, out with Bubba Watson when the sun was high yesterday. Yang’s round teetered constantly on the brink of disintegration, too, and finally did, his 85 better only than Ben Crenshaw, who has already decided that the competition is beyond him now.
But Woods did not dissolve, even though the vocabulary of his frustration at the 15th tee – TV microphones seemed to pick up him calling himself a “dumbass” in frustration – revealed the interior mind. There was moment on the fairway at that 15th hole, after he had just rescued himself, watched his third shot roll back down the bank a few feet beyond the sink and cried “No! No!”, when Woods just squatted there in contemplation.
There was an almighty roar in that moment from a direction that you had believe was where Jordan Speith was racking up the sixth birdie in seven rounds to sweep to the top of the Masters, three holes behind. The leaderboard at the 15th green was within view and in that moment, as a light breeze crossed the fairway, Woods must have felt a very long way from the sanctity that east Georgia once held.
He is skating on extremely thin ice today, tying for 41st, -bang on the cut mark - and in need of something better if he is to prevail into the weekend. To miss the cut would represent a particularly brutal form of humiliation and bring upon him a deluge of criticism about his decision to enter the fray so short of match practice. It would be the first time in 20 Masters that he misses the cut, on the tenth anniversary of his first win.
He was trying to take strength from the recovery of his short game last night. “It's my strength again. That's why I've busted my butt. That's why I took time off. That's why I hit thousands and thousands of shots to make sure that it's back to being my strength,” he said. But his conclusion that “I felt good. I felt like I hit the ball well enough to shoot 3‑under par,” was not borne out by what the cameras did and sounded like a confection. More significant than empty words is the fact Woods is there at all. It was less than a humiliation, the chance to fight another day, and that displays a mental strength at least.Reuse content