Two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange is dreading the prospect of the winning putt in this year’s Masters being made with the flagstick in.
This week’s event at Augusta National is the first men’s major since new rules were introduced at the start of the year, including one that allows the flagstick to be kept in.
Most players have been doing that for long putts, with a few, including former Masters champion Adam Scott, right, and US star Bryson DeChambeau, also leaving it in for shorter ones. “I think I would take the strategy of leaving it in outside of 20-30 feet, especially at Augusta, where speed is such a concern,” said Strange, speaking on behalf of espn.co.uk.
Giving an example of where the change might be particularly helpful this week, the former Ryder Cup captain added: “Pin back left at 16 if you miss right. Nobody can keep it around that hole.
“Why would you not hit the flagstick in? Because, if it hits the flagstick, it’s going to help you out. But, if you’ve taken the mentality of Bryson or Adam of keeping it in all the time, then keep it in all the time. I think everybody’s got their own opinion on that.
“Do I like it or not? I think I plead the Fifth [Amendment] on that one. But it just looks odd.
“If the guy has a six-footer on the last hole Sunday afternoon to win The Masters and he leaves the flag in, it’s going to be different.”
Concurring, fellow two-time US Open champion Andy North said: “I think there’s a bunch of putts at Augusta that you’ll leave the flagstick in just because they are so fast that maybe you could get a little help. Putts that get away from you.
“I’m a big fan of leaving it in from 40-50 feet from the hole. I think that can only help you.
“It helps your depth perception a little bit. But I don’t understand leaving it in on 8-12 footers. I don’t get that at all. I don’t see any way in the world it will help you.
“We saw some events early in the year, Adam Scott was putting with it in all the time, the wind is blowing, flagstick is rattling around. I can’t imagine that that’s not some kind of a distraction.”