Ryan Moore found himself facing the definition of the first hole’s difficulty as he stood over a 51-foot putt.
With the pin tucked on the left shelf of the green for the second round, Moore faced the possibility of his putt rolling off the green in two directions. Multiple chances of danger around the pin is what made No. 1 the most difficult hole at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday.
“It’s actually rare that you get a putt that you could putt it off two different directions off the green, and I had one of those on No. 1,” Moore said.
The par-4 first hole ranked as the toughest hole through two rounds at a 4.6 average. The scoring average for the second round was more than 5 at one point before settling to 4.7 for the day, featuring 44 bogeys, six double bogeys, four scores greater than double bogey, and only two birdies.
While the first hole is typically one of the most difficult – it ranked second last year and entered the 2017 Masters Tournament at sixth-toughest overall – it’s especially been a monster opening hole so far this year.
“That may be one of the hardest starting holes in golf, especially with any kind of west or northwest wind,” said William McGirt, who bogeyed it Friday after a par Thursday. “The ball does not go anywhere because it’s so cold today.”
A stiff wind and first-tee jitters potentially played into some short or wayward tee shots Friday, but the main culprit was the pin location. Anything front or left on the first green puts false fronts into play, and it shows when a chip shot from either direction rolls back to a player’s feet.
Defending Masters champion Danny Willett fell victim to the slopes in the second round when he twice watched his chip roll off the green, resulting in a quadruple-bogey 8 to start his round. He went 6-over on the hole the first two days.
“It’s a foot off the edge of the trap,” Willett said. “If it goes in the bunker, it’s not too bad. If it goes a foot right, you can get down to where it finishes, which is not great. From there was my own fault. Not the best start.”
Entire groups felt the hurt of No. 1. The grouping of Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson and Tyrrell Hatton combined for 6-over on the hole Friday, including a triple bogey for Cabrera and double bogey for Stenson.
All three had clear approach shots. Moore’s putt, however, was a prime example of how the hole’s location proved tricky. Coming from the back of the green, Moore said, a putt left two feet shorter than his would’ve rolled off the left side, and a few feet too far would’ve rolled off the front.
Moore rolled it to four feet and it stayed on the surface, allowing him to sink a par putt and move on.
“It’s a golf course that if you hit it in the right place, it’s scorable, it’s possible to shoot a golf score,” Moore said. “If you start hitting it in the wrong places, and that can even be on the green, you’re going to make bogey. That’s the beauty of this golf course.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.