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The Loop

The Loop

Why you shouldn't read too much into how the Masters leaders play the first hole

April 13, 2014

It's inevitable that one, if not several, of the leaders will bogey the first hole at Augusta National in today's final round. Just don't automatically blame it on major championship nerves. And definitely don't write off whoever does.

The 445-yard par 4 is just plain hard. Really hard. In fact, "Tea Olive," has played as the third most difficult hole entering Sunday. It has played to a 4.33 stroke average and has produced nearly six times as many scores over par as it has under.

This is nothing new. Historically, No. 1 is the sixth-toughest hole in Masters history and it has consistently ranked in the top five the past decade. As a result, plenty of leaders have begun their final rounds with bogeys and plenty of those players have still gone onto win.

In fact, four of the past seven winners (Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Trevor Immelman, and Zach Johnson) bogeyed No. 1 before slipping on the green jacket for the first time. A fifth, Charl Schwartzel, found himself in major trouble before holing an improbable third shot for birdie.

As the saying goes, the Masters doesn't begin until the back nine on Sunday. That's not entirely accurate, but it certainly doesn't end for anyone stumbling out of the gate.