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Caulton Tudor

No. 2 Course should suit Bubba to a tee

Posted April 14

— Brandel Chamblee, the Golf Channel analyst, once described Pinehurst No. 2 as “Augusta National on steroids.”

Those words have to be music to the ears of Bubba Watson, whose big-bang tee shots and innovative shot-making talents opened the door to Augusta’s Butler Cabin and his second Masters championship Sunday afternoon.

The Pinehurst No. 2 layout that Watson and his fellow qualifiers will face June 12-15 in the North Carolina sandhills will so closely resemble Augusta that he should have a better-than-even chance to pull off one of the sport’s rare doubles of winning the Masters and the US Open in the same year.
Ben Hogan did it twice (1951 and ’53). Jack Nicklaus did it in 1972, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Tiger Woods in 2002 and Craig Wood in 1941.

Watson is prone to inconsistent scoring numbers, but there’s good reason to believe No. 2 will be a near-perfect match for his skills.

Unlike most Open courses, No. 2 will not be unnecessarily tight. But at about 7,500 yards, it’ll be so long that some of the leading shorter, more accurate drivers are likely to face an ongoing game of catch-up off the tees.

Augusta played roughly 7,400 yards in dry, sometimes windy conditions last week.

But keep in mind that Augusta has a few rolling hills and water hazards on three back-9 holes. No. 2 is among the flattest championship courses in the world, is basically water free and unlikely to be windswept in mid-June. Watson should be able to play lock and load most of the time.

The fairway bunkers will create more trouble than when Payne Stewart won at 1-under in 1999 and Michael Campbell at even par in 2005. But Stewart won on a 7,175-yard course and Campbell won when the yardage was 7,220.

A recently completed restoration project, headed by Ben Crenshaw and Bil Coore, focused on bringing back some of the same shot lines introduced by Donald Ross in the early 1900s.

Compared to Merion last season, where Watson tied for 32nd and Olympic in 2012 (missed cut), he’ll be able to hit the big pink driver much more often.

After the Masters, Watson’s average driving distance of 315.4 yards increased by almost a full yard over close contenders Dustin Johnson (309.1), Scott Piercy (307) and Nicola Colsaerts.

The oldest adage in the sport is “drive for show and putt for dough.” That’s still true in large part, but length obviously is more important on a 7,500-yard course than the average PGA Tour stops.

“When he has wedge, he can go fire at some pins and be able to stop it,” Luke Donald said of Watson. “If he’s hitting wedge and other guys are hitting 8-irons or more, there’s an advantage.”

The early odds favor Rory McIlory, still injured Tiger Woods and Adam Scott at 10-to-1. Watson is in a group at 25-1 that includes Jason Day and Matt Kuchar.

But if Watson can hit the same tee shots at Pinehurst that he did at Augusta, 25-1 could be a deal.

11 Comments

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  • baldchip Apr 15, 2:11 p.m.

    Bubba and Pinehurst-well-the names just don't seem comparable. Yet, Bubba's game is on right now! He is a great representative of the game-and a great rather figure!!

    His persona reminds me of Tom Watson's-it's all about the good of the game!!

  • PDC - 1996 Apr 15, 1:21 p.m.

    Nice read, but hang on here: Pinehurst will be tighter than Augusta and the rough will be much more punitive...and that takes driver out of the bag on many holes...I respect Bubba's game and had a blast watching him win this weekend, but I don't think we'll see him contend at the Open.

  • vt94hokies Apr 14, 6:39 p.m.

    Totally happy that Bubba won another green jacket. His emotions really was out there. I loved seeing him hug his caddy, wife and son. He high fived all that he could. I would like to see Phil complete a grand slam in Pinehurst.

  • AliceBToklas Apr 14, 5:17 p.m.

    Bobby Jones? Seems he won both in one year.

    — Posted by jmcdow2792

    Are you serious? You need to learn a bit more about The Masters.

  • Objective Scientist Apr 14, 5:08 p.m.

    I've got the "fat finger" typo syndrome today! That should have been "...statue of HIM"... not home!

  • Objective Scientist Apr 14, 5:05 p.m.

    Yeah... you caught me on that one HAMMERHEAD. After hitting "ADD COMMENT", then reading my post after it appeared... I quickly saw the typo in my second sentence! My intention was "prognosticate", not "prognostic". Although prognostic could be correct with a re-wording of the sentence. Nevertheless, I am not prognosticating... I have my tickets and will be there to see first hand who does what! Regardless of who does it... a finish like that of Payne Stewart would be good. I was fortunate enough to be on the edge of the 18th when he made that 15-16 foot putt to win, and struck the pose that is now a statue of home next to the clubhouse at Pinehurst.

  • ncguy Apr 14, 4:38 p.m.

    I was pulling for Spieth
    Classy kid and wanted him to take youngest to win from tiger

  • Hammerhead Apr 14, 4:13 p.m.

    This far out from the first tee shot on Pinehurst #2 and talk is about a group of guys being... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    Or prognosticate even.

  • Objective Scientist Apr 14, 3:57 p.m.

    This far out from the first tee shot on Pinehurst #2 and talk is about a group of guys being favored at 10-1 and another group, including Watson, favored at 25-1. At this point trying to prognostic who will be hot in ~2 months from now... is as futile as trying to "spit into a strong wind". Pinehurst #2 is indeed a formidable golf course, especially since it has been restored to a very similar condition as it was several decades ago. Unique challenges will vary from the length to lies on thick beds of long-leaf pine needles to waste sand areas to the infamous wire-grass to incredibly fast, upside down yet undulating greens with "false-fronts" all around. Don't be surprised to see guys using putters from 20+ yards off the greens. I learned the game on that type of #2 course... and it requires that you be capable of using every club in the bag in a huge variety of shots. Who will be "at the top of their game" in Pinehurst... at this point NO ONE KNOWS! Pontificate all you want!!!

  • jmcdow2792 Apr 14, 2:45 p.m.

    Bobby Jones? Seems he won both in one year.

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