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Posted April 12, 2019, 6:24 pm
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Fifth hole continues to own Masters field

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    Approach shots on No. 5 on Friday stayed on the green for less than half the Masters Tournament field. It played as the hardest hole of the day. [ANDY NELSON/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Alister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones designed the 10 par-4s at Augusta National Golf Club with the second shot in mind. They created wide fairways that reward the proper angle while demanding precision on approach shots to undulating greens.

On a layout loaded with gems, the club’s most recent change has produced a second shot that’s second to none in difficulty. Renovated and lengthened by 40 yards since last year’s Masters Tournament to offset the modern player’s power, the 495-yard, par-4 No. 5 punished the field Friday in the second round.

While 78 percent of the field hit a fairway softened by early morning rain, only 47 percent hit the green in regulation. No. 5 was the most difficult hole on the course in the second round, playing to a 4.345 stroke average.

“I’m going to go ahead and give you a little tip,” two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson said. “It’s going to be the toughest hole, every year, every tournament that we play here.”

Watson laid up short of the bunkers with a 3-wood off the tee, leaving him 224 yards to a multi-tiered green. The hole played into the wind for the second day in a row.

“If you play it the smartest way you’re still going to have well over 200 yards to the front to a green that I don’t believe is built for a 4-iron, 3-iron, hybrids or what some guys are hitting there,” Watson said. “Right now, it’s a great golf hole.”

More than half the 87-man field faced at least 200 yards on their second shot Friday at No. 5.

Larry Mize, the 60-year-old 1987 Masters champion, hit the shortest drive, making par from 245 yards out by getting up-and-down from short of the green. Jon Rahm, 24, and 23rd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, hit the longest drive of the day and made par from 175 yards to the hole.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello made one of five birdies in the second round at No. 5, lacing a 5-iron from 195 yards within two feet of the cup, en route to a 2-under-par 70 which made him 1-under for the tournament.

The five birdie makers had an average of 208 yards on their approach shot.

“I hit a really solid 5-iron just as pictured in my head, it was high and able to land soft. The wind hit it a little with a tiny bit of draw and it just trickled out to the perfect spot about a foot and a half from the hole,” Cabrera-Bello said with a smile. “Into the wind it’s a monster.”

Although the green is 41 yards deep from front left to back right, a severe slope covers the first third of the surface, repelling shots to the front edge. The second-round hole location was perched just on top of the ridge, 18 yards on and 16 yards from the right fringe.

Jason Day had 220 yards to the green. Justin Thomas had 214 yards. Both players, among the longest off the tee on Tour, hit driver. Bryson DeChambeau barely reached the front edge from 224 yards out while Phil Mickelson, in the second cut and 217 yards away, had to lay up.

Photos: 2019 Masters Round 2

Adam Scott, who missed the green from 190 yards in the fairway Friday, likes the renovation. “They softened some of the contours on the green, and I believe it can receive a 4-iron and a 5-iron now whereas previously it was a little more severe up above that shelf. I’m seeing shots stop on the green.”

Patton Kizzire used a 4-iron for his second shot, making par in a solid 2-under 70.

“That hole’s difficult, especially as soft as it is. We’re not getting any roll,” Kizzire said. “That green is pretty tough, especially where the pin was, it’s right above the knob. It’s almost impossible to get it close. Michael Kim hit a high cutty hybrid, which is almost the best way to get it close unless you can bomb it down there and hit a mid-iron.”

Whatever club a player had in hand, the fifth hole was fierce once again.