Amateurs experience speed of Augusta National's greens
Prior to Saturday’s final round, Agathe Laisne saw a familiar face on No. 1 tee box.
Aside from the hundreds of patrons who gathered to witness her 8:20 a.m. tee time, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was also in attendance.
“I walked over to Bubba and asked if he had any tricks,” Laisne said. “He told me, ‘Make a lot of birdies.’ That was not a good trick.”
Laisne, a sophomore at Texas, carded 79 to finish the inaugural women’s amateur in 29th place. According to Laisne, the most difficult part of her day came on the greens.
“The speed was very hard to get,” Laisne said. “Whenever you had a downhill putt it would roll a lot, and whenever it was uphill, you wouldn't know how to putt it because you were so used to downhill.”
Ainhoa Olarra also said the greens proved to be the most difficult part of the course. Olarra, a former standout at the University of South Carolina, three-putted No. 2 before rallying to shoot 1-under-par 71.
“The greens drove me crazy because I couldn't make anything,” Olarra said. “I hit my putt on No. 2 way too hard and from then on I was afraid of being in that situation. I was short almost every time because I wasn’t going to be long again. I was never comfortable with my putter.”
In addition, Olarra was challenged by a pre-round decision to leave her 8-iron in the locker room. Moments before teeing off, Olarra and her coach, Kalen Anderson, checked the pin locations and decided it was best to replace her 8-iron in favor of a 4-iron and hybrid.
“I thought I wouldn't be using the 8-iron that much,” Olarra said. “But, you know, some things happened.”
It wasn’t long before Olarra was in need of her missing club. After hitting her tee shot on No. 3, Olarra was at her 8-iron distance, but was forced to hit 7. The situation occurred again on No. 17.
“On 17 I made a birdie with the 7-iron, but it was an 8-iron distance,” Olarra said. “On those shots I had to hit a soft 7-iron. … But I really needed the 4-iron and the hybrid because the course played long for me.”
Allisen Corpuz, a junior at the University of Southern California, also spoke about the length of Augusta National. Corpuz used a hybrid on No. 4 — a par 3. She again used hybrid for her second shot on No. 10.
“It was definitely longer than most courses I’m used to competing on,” said Corpuz, who shot 72. “I hit a lot of challenging shots with either a hybrid or long iron. It was a great test all day.”
For Anna Redding, her day was defined on No. 1. The University of Virginia senior was the first competitor to tee off at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, and immediately found trouble.
Redding’s tee shot landed beside a tree and decided to play her second shot left-handed.
“I whiffed,” said Redding, who’s right-handed. “I literally whiffed the ball.”
Redding connected on her second attempt, which she also tried left-handed, and made double bogey on the hole. None of the 30 competitors made birdie on No. 1.
“It was all a bit crazy,” Redding said. “I was the first one to tee off, which was very nerve-wracking. I was shaking — I've never seen this many people on a golf course. I also had the first whiff, so that’s awesome too.”