Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Greg Norman shocked

by what's been done

to Masters course

Greg Norman has been back to Augusta in preparation for his first Masters for seven years - and was stunned by what he found.
The 54-year-old Australian, who qualified for a return with his spectacular third-place finish in last year's Open: "Since I last played it they've added about 420 yards and I was absolutely shocked, to tell you the truth.
"There are phenomenal changes right from the very first hole."
He added: "The tee now is back where the old putting green was, so the thought of driving it over the bunker on the first hole is gone.
"I had a 176 yards shot into the green on Wednesday and back in the other days it was 120 yards.
"Seventh hole, dramatic change. Eleventh hole, dramatic change. It's going to be a lot harder to play for someone who doesn't hit the ball 320 than a player who does hit the ball a long way.
"A lot of the guys have told me that Zach Johnson never went for a par-5 in two and won The Masters, so it goes to show you can do it, but if the weather conditions stayed the same as what I just played last Wednesday it bodes well for the longer hitters.
"I was just surprised to what they did to some of the great short holes. I can understand the par-5s, but, for example, the seventh hole was one of the great classic risk-reward short holes.
"I used to try to drive the golf ball way up in front of the green and pitch it up and that's gone now.
"And same with 14 - I remember trying to whip a driver around there and get as close to the green with a sand wedge as I could. You can't do that stuff now. I loved the challenges in the old days of the short holes of Augusta. They can either bite you in the rear end or not.
"I remember if somebody came into the back nine at Augusta probably six or seven or eight shots behind the lead and feel like they could win it. That was a great feeling. I think it's going to be a lot more difficult now for those type of low numbers."



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