Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Hint of Augusta National at A-Sun Championships

Augusta National stands as one of the iconic golf courses in the world as hosts to one of the great traditions of the spring season, The Masters.

One of the most majestic holes at Augusta remains No. 12, known as Golden Bell. The hole, a short par three with Rae's Creek guarding the green in front and trees in behind surrounded in bunkers, stands as one of the pillars of professional golf.

At the 2010 Atlantic Sun Men’s Golf Championships the student-athletes of the conference are getting a taste of what it is like to play Golden Bell. The 15th hole at the Legends Course at Chateau Elan stands as almost an exact replica of No. 12 at Augusta.

“Our hole No. 15 is fashioned after No. 12 at Augusta,” head professional at the Legends at Chateau Elan, Sean Cain said. “When Gene Sarazen designed the course he didn’t want to copy it (No. 12 at Augusta). One thing Sarazen said about No. 12 at Augusta was that he also thought the hole would play better if the green was flipped around so that is exactly what we have here.”

No. 15 on The Legends Course has drawn the eye of many players even first-round co-leader ETSU’s Seamus Power.

“I was quite impressed with how well they were able to copy it.” Power said. “It is very similar to the way it looks on TV. You learn how to play it by watching the pros on TV so it is kind of cool.”

Power has not been the only player with an eye on No. 15 on The Legends Course.

“I really like it. I think it is a fairly accurate replica of the 12th at Augusta.” Belmont’s Gaylon Cude, one of 12 golfers who birdied the hole on Tuesday, said. “It is fairly simple hole you just have to make sure you don’t hit it right and hit it in the middle of the green every time.”

Each golfer has taken on a different way to attack hole No.15.

“I just hit a seven iron.” UNF’s Joe Byun, who also recorded a "2" at No. 15 said. “It landed within two feet. When I hit it I wasn’t sure I got it all so I watched it all the way and when it landed I was happy."

The advantage just about every golfer has with No. 15 is they have seen how the professional handle it and they have learned.

“It is the same hole I’ve seen on TV.” FGCU’s Patrick Williams said. “It is a narrow green. You have to good on your distance control and know where to miss it."

On Monday, with the pin placed on the left side of the front bunker, the hole played as the third-hardest on the course, yielding only two birdies in playing to a stroke average of 3.42.

“Basically you just want to hit the green,” Kennesaw State's Jeff Karlsson said. “If you hit the green you have a good chance of birdie. Yesterday I hit a pitching wedge just a little bit long but then I was able to chip in for birdie.”

For the second round, the pin moved to the middle of the green and scores improved. The average score dropped to 3.22 as 12 players made birdie. Belmont, ETSU and Stetson all played the hole in even par. All five of the Hatters made pars on the hole.

On Wednesday, the hole location will move to the right side of the bunker, bringing the slope into the lake more in play. As teams and individuals fighting for titles, will any dare to shoot at the pin like Phil Mickelson did two weeks ago to set up a birdie (1:54 mark)? Might a player catch a break as lucky as Fred Couples did in 1992?

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