Advertisement

MASTERS '24: 8th hole at Augusta National has an uphill climb and a blind shot

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Bruce Devlin hit the best shot he never saw at the Masters.

It was the first round in 1967, and the Australian was 240 yards away on the par-5 eighth hole at Augusta National. He took a lash with his 4-wood. The ball landed on the front of the green, rolled some 60 feet and took one last turn into the cup for an albatross.

“I knew it was in when I hit it,” Devlin said that day, and it didn't take long for reporters to appreciate the humor.

It's a blind shot.

The hill is so steep no one can see the green. Devlin's father was in the gallery and might have had a decent view except a tree was in his way. He stepped out toward the fairway for a better view only for a Pinkerton guard to intervene and order him to move back.

The eighth hole is called “Yellow Jasmine” — the trumpet-shaped yellow blooms usually have faded by the start of the Masters — and it is the only par 5 without a hazard. It still packs quite a punch. The eighth ranks as the hardest of the par 5s at Augusta in a cumulative ranking dating to 1934, though it was second-easiest last year.

The key is to avoid the fairway bunker to the right. From there, it's straight up the hill and slightly to the left. The green is framed by large mounds to the left and open space to the right, which looks harmless enough except when the pin is to the right.

“It's one of those that lulls you to sleep a little bit off the tee, but you can’t let it because it’s actually a really important tee shot,” Cameron Young said.

And the second shot is no bargain, mainly because of the slope.

“Like most holes at Augusta, you're not ready for the slope you've got hit on," Adam Scott said. “You're standing on a launch pad. It's such an upslope. You just don't practice it. I mean, the practice rounds, of course you do it. But to get good at something you've got to do it a lot. And you just don't.”

For the big hitters, such as Gary Woodland, the bunker can be carried as long as the wind isn't into their faces. And then the fun begins. Anything too far to the left tends to kick away from those mounds and into the pine trees. Even an open look requires a shot over the mounds.

“The second shot is blind, but we all know where to hit it,” Woodland said, pausing before he added with a smile, “We know where the miss is, too.”

It's common to see players bail out to the right. The temptation is to hit a draw, but too far left can spell a world of trouble.

“I've been down there once and managed to escape,” Scott said. “Birdie is out of your mind at that point and bogey is entering. It's likely going to kick left on a hill, and if it catches a tree it can go down there quick. It's not a place you want to be.”

Among the more famous moments — in addition to Devlin making 2 — was Tom Kite holing from 50 yards short of the green for eagle in the final round in 1986, only for Seve Ballesteros to follow him by pitching in for eagle. That kept them in the hunt, though that day belonged to Jack Nicklaus and his sixth green jacket.

Jordan Spieth had a chance to become the youngest Masters champion in 2014 at age 20. He was leading by two shots in the final round until he made bogey on No. 8 and Bubba Watson made birdie. They were tied until another two-shot swing on the ninth, and Watson was on his way to winning another Masters title.

Spieth is spooked by No. 8, mainly the bunker. He hates that bunker. How much? Consider a practice round a few years ago, when Spieth made a wager with his caddie that he would not hit his tee shot into the bunker on the right. Spieth aimed so far left he was nearly in the trees.

Zach Johnson was listening to this play out when he asked Spieth, “Would you rather hit it in the bunker on 8 or in the water on 12?”

This was only a few years after Spieth twice hit into Rae's Creek on 12th hole and made quadruple bogey, a meltdown that cost him the Masters.

Spieth can laugh about it now, but it still stings.

“First of all, you're a (expletive)," Spieth replied. “You know what? I'd rather hit it in the water.” But then he thought for a moment before reasoning: "Although I've made birdie from the bunker on 8. I don't think I've ever made birdie from the water on 12.”

Asked for his best moment on No. 8, Spieth went back to the place he loathes.

“In 2015, I drove it in the bunker, which as you know is my least favorite place on the planet Earth,” he said. “It was up in the lip and I couldn't advance it more than 40 yards. So I hit a hybrid in that I took with a fade over those trees to a middle pin to like that.”

He held his hands about 3 feet apart.

“I thought I was potentially making bogey and I left with birdie,” he said. “I'll always remember that. It was a cool shot to hit.”

He still hates that bunker.

___

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf