April 9, 2019 / 8:44 PM / 12 days ago

Golf: Longer Augusta fifth hole turns from bore into brute

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - The fifth hole at Augusta National is certainly not the most famous, but this year it could be the hardest after being stretched so far that they had to reroute the road that ran behind the old tee.

FILE PHOTO: Justin Rose of England chips onto the 2nd hole during practice for the 2019 Master golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The par-four has been turned into a brute, lengthened some 40 yards to nearly 500 yards, officially 495 though the number will change slightly each day depending on where the pin is put.

The tees will also likely be moved a few yards each day.

“I think number five is probably going to play the toughest hole now for sure,” said world number one Justin Rose.

The hole, which curves gently to the left without being a dogleg, still has two deep bunkers guarding the left-hand side, encouraging players to aim more for the right side of the fairway.

Rory McIlroy, perhaps the longest hitter in the field, used to worry about his ball running through the fairway and into bushes on the right, and often used a three-wood off the tee for safety instead of a driver.

Now he can swing away without fear.

“I think (hole) five has been a very good change in terms (that) it puts driver back in a lot of guys’ hands that wouldn’t necessarily hit driver on that hole,” said the Northern Irishman.

“And you need to hit driver; because I came here last Wednesday, played in the morning, it was a little cold, a little damp and I hit four-iron into the green.

“If you hit three-wood and you’re 30 yards back of (where driver would stop) you’re on the upslope and you can hardly see the green.”

Tiger Woods succinctly summed up the new hole.

“It’s just long,” he said on Wednesday. “The bunkers are still deep. I think they are unplayable to get the ball to the green.”

The hole was parred more than two-thirds of the time in 2018, when it yielded only 26 birdies all week, along with 64 bogeys and four double-bogeys.

It was the sixth hardest of the week.

It is likely to give up even fewer birdies this week, but a lot more bogeys.

“I always like making hard holes harder,” said three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

For the shorter hitters, the game plan has not really changed.

“The tee shot is pretty much the same shot,” said British Open champion Francesco Molinari, who is not a particularly long hitter.

“The second shot, obviously is longer, considerably longer. Yesterday it was playing into the wind, and probably with the old tee we would have been hitting seven-iron in, and we were hitting four-iron in yesterday.

“I think that’s going to be around a three-club difference.”

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis

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