Augusta National never was intended to be a thrasher like those other venues. But in trying to preserve the integrity of the course to combat technology, it appears tournament officials might have stripped the personality of the Masters.
You don't go to Las Vegas to attend a piano recital, and you don't go to the Masters to see a bunch of pars and bogeys. You want the glory, and that means eagles and birdies at Augusta.
You want to see Woods attacking the par-5 13th with his second shot instead of hitting a forgettable layup. The eagle potential on 13 and the par-5 15th were one of the highlights on the back nine. Thursday, there were only two eagles on those holes.
This wasn't Shinnecock silly during the final round of the 2004 U.S. Open, when the rock-hard greens had approach shots bouncing like superballs. But the combination of the added length and the firm greens afforded the players few birdie opportunities.
With the current conditions, it is hard to imagine anybody streaking home Sunday with a 30 on the back nine like Jack Nicklaus did in 1986, or with a 31 like Mickelson did winning in 2004.
Instead, it could come down to a matter of which player can avoid making bogeys. That's a U.S. Open.
Does that sound like fun?
In the final analysis there is little room for entertaining the hope that putting may be reduced to a science. Good putting is at best a fleeting blessing. Here today, gone tomorrow. BOBBY JONES