The Loop

Final round may look familiar

April 12, 2009

One word can be used to describe the hole locations for today's final round at the Masters: "traditional."

All of the usual Sunday pin positions have been utilized this year: pushed to the far right of the green on the par-3 12th (just six paces from the edge of the putting surface); in the little hollow just beyond the left bunker on the par-3 16th; and front left below the swale on the par-4 18th. Those latter two locations -- because players can use nearby slopes to "feed" shots close to the hole -- are likely to yield plenty of birdies.

Other hole locations suggest today's set-up is on the easy side (if there is such a thing as an "easy" setup at Augusta National): far right on the par-5 second; front left on the par-3 sixth (rather than on the top right shelf); and on the right side of the par-4 11th (which takes the pond on the left side of the green virtually out of play).

And today could be a big day for eagles on the back-nine par 5s. On No. 13, the committee placed the hole 20 yards back (about the middle of the green) and six paces from the right edge: what that means is that players can use the slope in the middle of the green as a backstop for second shots. And on No. 15, the hole is back right (16 yards back, nine from the right edge), which means any player who holds the green with his second shot will probably have un uphill eagle putt -- not one of the treacherous downhill putts we saw a lot of Saturday.

Combined with the beautiful weather -- sunny, temperatures in the 70s, a light breeze -- today could be one of those old-fashioned, loud, risk-reward final rounds we haven't had in about five years. The players just have to do their part.

*-- Geoff Russell *