With four green jackets hanging in his closet, you may think Tiger Woods has vanquished the course at Augusta. After all, he’s one Masters triumph away from tying Jack Nicklaus’s record of six wins. But two of the course’s holes habitually give Woods fits. His performance on these two is a strong indicator of how he’ll finish on Sunday afternoon.
Entering last year’s tournament, Woods was at +17 combined on No. 1 and No. 4, making them his two worst holes at Augusta. Here’s what you need to know.
No. 1 ‘Tea Olive’ hole makes Tiger Woods nervous
All of Augusta’s holes are named after flowering shrubs or trees. The club founders bought the land from a nursery and so named each hole after a shrub or tree showcased on each particular hole.
Tea Olive, the No. 1 hole (par 4, 445 yards), was originally called Cherokee Rose. Whatever you call it — and no doubt many players have called it worse — it’s historically the sixth-hardest hole relative to par. Since 2011, Tea Olive ranks as one of the hardest holes on the Masters course.
Why is ‘Tea Olive’ so hard to play?
Some players think the hole gets in their heads in the last two rounds when everybody tees off on No. 1 and there’s the hubbub of the gallery and cameras.
The course designers created a hole that lets golfers know what’s in store for them the rest of the round. It’s an uphill drive with a dogleg right. Deep beds of pines and pine straw reside on the left and a bunker rests on the right.
Once they’re on the green, little ridges can funnel the ball back in any direction, so two- or three-putting isn’t unusual. To make it more fun, the Masters Committee speeds up the greens after qualifying play ends on Wednesday, so the players don’t know how fast they’ll be on Thursday.
Woods has figured out part of the hole’s mystique, according to Wisconsin Golf. He said this about his strategy: “Some of the longer hitters might challenge that bunker and hit it over the top (a 317-yard carry). But when it gets a little cool out, you get that wind out of the north coming off the right, it gets pretty difficult because those trees run up on you pretty quickly.”
To say that Tea Olive is one of Wood’s worst holes is relative; he plays it better than most. Some years back he had a 25-foot birdie putt get caught up in those sneaky ridges and roll down the slope. The ever-unflappable Woods just followed it down and chipped the ball in for a par.
No. 4 ‘Flowering Crab Apple’ hole is short but deadly
A par 3,240-yard short hole, No. 4’s difficulty lies in the tee box’s position. When it’s in the back, players must hit a long iron onto a green protected by a bunker in the front and to the left. And the committee likes to place it way back in April. Those bunkers provide a soft landing sport for more tee shots than the players would like.
When Woods has won the Masters, it’s because he’s dominated this specific hole. In 82 rounds at Augusta, he’s birdied No. 4 eight times, according to PGA.com. He’s been at par 50 rounds, bogeyed 23, and had one memorable double bogey.
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