Guy Heveldt: Five observations from Augusta

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts after making his putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday. Photo / AP.
Sergio Garcia, of Spain, reacts after making his putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday. Photo / AP.

Moving Day at Augusta National is something special. After a couple of rounds of the odd unexpected player being at the top of the leaderboard, the big guns surge.

Spieth, Rose, Garcia, Fowler and Scott all moved into contention in this year's third round, while names like Schwartzel, Westwood and Rahm would still consider themselves in with a chance.

I was privileged enough to watch a bit of it live. There was plenty to observe.

Roars of the galleries
They're synonymous with Augusta National. They're loud and they come from all over the property. Moving day roars are different from the roars heard in previous days of the tournament. Booming drives, pinpoint approach shots, clutch putts; eagles, birdies, par saves.

They all get the crowd pumped up. Out on the course, it's sometimes difficult to know where they're coming from and who they're for.

You hear them. Boy, do you hear them. But everyone is guessing. "Oh that's from 15. Spieth's over there!" Or, "Man that's definitely an eagle roar. Listen to it, it's longer than a birdie roar."

Vantage points
Those galleries are huge and they line the length of most fairways, crowd around the tees and greens and move at a brisk walk (just short of the famously banned run that could see you thrown off the course).

But, despite all that, there are so many great vantage points to watch the action unfold. Because of the vast expanse of Augusta National and the endless undulations, a good spot takes some bending of the body and a little strain on the toes. Only the ever-popular 12th tee proved difficult for this patron (expert tip: take binoculars to the 12th - being 150+ yards from the green makes it difficult to know when the ball is actually in the hole!).

The fans themselves
The atmosphere is electric. Most of the crowds are excitable but respectful. However, remember, this is the United States of America. While Augusta National prides itself on its knowledgeable fans (and the majority of them are) a few can stray. "Oh yea baby" as well as "oh mercy me, Lefty" and "oh my sweet Lord that's nice" (all in the southern twang) were three noticeable examples that left my eyebrows raised. Although, despite the boorish nature of a handful, it sure beats the repetitive "All Blacks *clap* *clap* *clap* or similar at New Zealand's sporting events.

Being at 13 for Spieth out of the straw
"What would Arnie do?" That was the question Jordan Spieth posed to caddy Michael Greller as he eyed up 230 yards from the pine straw on the par five 13th. It mirrored Mickelson's miracle shot in 2010, albeit a day earlier in the tournament and a little further back. But, nonetheless, gutsy. The "Arnie" he referred to, of course, being the legendary Arnold Palmer. Greller wasn't sure but still answered "hit it to 20 feet." After some discussion with his bag man, Spieth chanced his arm, with some success. Not quite the 20 feet Arnie may have produced - 29 in fact - but it set up a birdie and set tongues wagging in the Augusta galleries.

Thinking tactics
You may have heard, truth be told, I'd be surprised if you hadn't. I'm lucky enough to have been pulled out of the media ballot to play Augusta National on Monday, just hours after Danny Willett presents the green jacket to this year's winner. I have hardly thought of anything else since being made aware of the news just over 24 hours ago. That, of course means homework, and plenty of it. Within the excitement of birdies and the pain of bogeys, I was taking mental notes on how best to approach the back nine which I'm told is "gettable".

• I learnt from Spieth, don't go left of the pin at the signature par three 12th (although it'd be better than following his lead in the final round last year at that hole!).

• Phil Mickelson taught me to use my imagination on the greens - hitting his 60-foot putt 15-feet past the hole to use the slope at the back of the 14th.

Of course, it's all well and good to have notes - transferring it to my ever-rusty and inconsistent golf game will be something else. Before then, I have what shapes as an incredible final round to get through. My pick is Spieth wins his second green jacket and first having to chase on Sunday.

- NZ Herald

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