Tiger Woods will be stalking a 15th major title and fifth green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club this week, but whether there will be any roars from the crowd on Sunday’s back nine is uncertain.
Players arrived for the year’s first major championship with dreams of a championship chase over the final holes, but changes to the famed course since 2002 have stolen some shotmaking drama from the last round.
“I just hope the excitement comes back on the back nine. It’s not what it used to be,” Woods said last month during his comeback from left knee surgery.
“I miss guys being able to go out there and shoot 31 on that back nine and win a championship.”
With narrowed fairways, stretched yardage and lightning-fast, undulating greens, Augusta National has been hard on players since 2004, when Phil Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes for his first major title.
“The best part of watching the Masters was seeing if someone was going to eagle 13 or eagle 15. That’s just completely far-fetched fantasy that it’s going to happen now,” Australian Geoff Ogilvy said.
“I think the birdie chances have gone away. It’s all kind of hard now.”
In cold conditions two years ago that evoked US Open comparisons for difficulty, Zach Johnson won at one-over par 289, the first Masters winner to finish 72 holes over par since 1956.