The Masters: What was the easiest hole in 2019?

Contenders needing to make up ground in the Masters must be ready to attack No. 13, the easiest hole at Augusta National in the 2019 event.

No. 13 is a 510-yard par 5 that might be a par 5 in name alone. In reality, it might be bettered considered as more of a par 4 and a half. Last year it played more than half a stroke easier than par with a 4.47 average.

Historically, No. 13 had played to a 4.79 average before last year, which made it the second easiest hole in the Masters, trailing only No. 15 by 0.01 average strokes.

The 13th green during a practice round for the 2018 Masters at Augusta National (Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports)

There were 17 eagles, 158 birdies, 102 pars, 23 bogeys and four double bogeys or worse on No. 13 in 2019.

What that all means, really, is that the shortish hole named Azalea is a strategic masterpiece, regardless of what the par might be.

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Players are forced to work a ball around the corner off the tee, avoiding trees, bushes and a creek to the left. They also can’t just blast away, because tee shots that don’t curve left to catch the hillside can easily run through the fairway into a stand of tall pine trees. If they do manage to sling a ball around the dogleg, most modern players then face a long or mid-iron off an uneven lie – ball above their feet while sloping downhill – to a green guarded by the tributary to Rae’s Creek. No easy task.

Tiger Woods in 2018 plays from the pine trees that wait through the fairway on No. 13 at Augusta National. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

There’s concern that modern long hitterS can bite off too much of the dogleg and leave themselves a wedge for a second shot – Bubba Watson, as just one example, was able to do that en route to his victory in 2014. If Bryson DeChambeau or any of several other power players take it over the trees to the left off the tee, they easily could be left with a wedge this year.

But that requires taking on a massive risk – miss by just a bit on that bold tee shot to the left, and double bogey or worse is lurking.

Phil Mickelson walks past the tributary to Rae’s Creek along the left side of No. 13 at Augusta National. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports)

One interesting factor for 2020 with the Masters being played in November: The 13th tees off to the north before curving northwest toward the green. If there is a cold front in November – a real possibility – brisk winds could blow directly into the players’ faces. That would greatly complicate any efforts to blast a drive over the trees to the left, as well as force players to take extra club into the green for any second shots. There will be a lot of math to consider on that tee and in that fairway.

And that’s what makes No. 13 at Augusta such a great hole, even with modern bombers firing away. It’s all about negotiating risk while trying to maximize reward.

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