A golfer’s Masters tournament can be made or broken as they approach the back nine. Players come off the tenth – statistically the hardest hole on the course – and head for Amen Corner, easily the most iconic stretch of the Augusta Course. It’s surrounded by pine trees and fans in silly jumpers shouting ‘Get in the Hole’ before you’ve even selected your club. The wind is tricky and more fickle than your average Arsenal fan. Then there’s bound to be a little bit of pressure as well.
Rory McIlroy had a four-shot lead in 2011 going into the back nine but a trip between the log cabins at 10 and then a bogey-double bogey at 11 and 12 put paid to his chances of becoming the youngest Masters winner since Tiger Woods. That’s the kind of territory you’re playing with here. The powers-that-be in Augusta might be a little bit less racist and less misogynist than they used to be, but they haven’t made this stretch of the course any more welcoming.
Golfers will go through Amen Corner four times in their attempt to win the Masters and many believe the player they’ve punted on, needs to work miracles at the start of the back nine to be in contention. But they don’t. As the last ten years of winners shows, if you’re steady through Amen Corner, that is enough.
In fact, in the last five years no player has come through four rounds of hole 11 and posted a score better than par. The White Dogwood as it is called is a 505-yard par 4 and since 2009 three Masters champions have managed to notch a par on each round giving them a total number of 16 strokes. Bubba Watson in 2012 and Angel Cabrera in 2009 posted a bogey on the 11th on one of their rounds and still went on to win. Phil Mickelson bogeyed the par 4 three times on his way to victory in 2006 so if your fella ends up in the drink or the forest, don’t lose faith.
The 12th is known as the Golden Bell, and again if your punt can get through the par 3 each time unscathed you’d be fairly happy. The wind plays havoc on this hole in four of the last fives years, the Masters winner has got through four rounds of the 12th in 12 strokes. Mickelson pinched a birdie on his final round in 2010, but similarly to the 11th hole, if you can get through without any major brain-farts you’re still in the mix.
The final hole of Amen Corner is where Champions can make hay. ‘Azalea’ or the 13th if you’re not down with Augusta lingo, is a 510-yard par 5 and it is where in the last 10 years the Masters winner has taken advantage. There’s the opportunity for a birdie, and if you’re brave enough even an eagle, if your flat-stick on the dancefloor is up to scratch.
Adam Scott last year made a couple of birdies and the year before Bubba made three birdies after posting a six for a bogey during the first round on Thursday. Right through the last ten years, the Masters winner has posted sub-par totals through four rounds of the par 5 13th. A couple of pars and a couple of birdies through the four rounds will do your selection no harm.
So, the last decade suggests you don’t need to do anything spectacular through your four rounds of Amen Corner, but you do need to ensure you chip away at the scoreboard. Four pars on the 11th and four pars on the 12th along with a couple of birdies on the 13th will give you a score of two-under for Amen Corner. That’s bang on with four of the last five Masters champs.
Then it’s just a case of holding your nerve and picking up shots around the other 60 holes. Easy this Major lark.