Why Masters fifth hole is so difficult for Rory McIlroy and co at Augusta this year

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A golden ticket to the Masters offers a patron, as they are called in these parts, free rein to move around the course as they wish. So who would choose to park themselves at a 495-yard par four which in round one coughed up just four birdies?

It is less Amen Corner than dead men corner, a tea cup ride compared to the rollercoasters which roar elsewhere around golf’s Disneyland.

If you’re after the buzz of a possible hole in one head for the short 16th; if you’re of a more ghoulish persuasion hunker down by the 15th and see if anyone can match Sergio Garcia series of splashdowns last year when he carded a 13.

If you’re after grim struggle, head for five.

Tickets for the Masters are almost impossible to come by. Nominally, one for yesterday’s play would have cost £87, but they are perpetually sold out and the waiting list closed years ago. Hoover one up via the black market and it will cost around £3,800.

Why then would you pay a king’s ransom for a pauper’s perch?

“I thought I’d try somewhere different,” says Rod, from Australia. “If I see a birdie it’ll be a collector’s item.”

He was not alone yesterday. Far from it. By mid-morning the 500-seater stand beside the fifth green was full.

Seemingly, there is a perverse pleasure in the slog.

“I sat here for three hours yesterday and caught two birdies in that time,” said Mary, from Atlanta, proudly.

She comes every year with her sister and always takes in the fifth. She likes the added length; she also has a fancy for yesterday’s new pin position – the toughest she has ever come across.

Cut by a ridge in the centre of an enormous green which looks like a herd of elephants has been buried under it, it is certainly perilous. Alex Noren putts up the slope and sees the ball roll back to his feet, Keegan Bradley gets up it but fires his ball 15 feet past. Matt Fitzpatrick wins the hole with a par.

The story continues with group after group. Shugo Imahira suffers the same fate as Noren.

There are no whoops and precious few claps from the stands. The mild groans from the stands and the birdsong provide a melancholy backdrop.

After a while you begin to appreciate the appeal of the place. With nothing to cheer, it is delightfully peaceful.

Augusta National’s ban on mobile phones and absence of big screens means there are no electronic distractions so if this is your spot, you sit, you wait and drink in the view through the pines to the third fairway and beyond.

The fifth lies on the southern border of the course. Its isolation means the roars from other, more lively parts of the course, are muffled.

When they do filter through they serve as a reminder of where you probably should be. Only not many people are moving.

Perhaps they are stupefied. Critics say golf is slow on television but without the ability to cut between different groups, progress is glacial. It takes each group of three more than 15 minutes to play the hole which, on average, means roughly a shot a minute for the green-side fans.

Maybe they just believe in the power of delayed gratification. After all, everything comes to those who wait.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello appears on the brow of the hill back down the fairway. Moments later there is a gentle plop as the Spaniard’s approach lands on the ridge and rolls its way to within six inches of the hole.

A kick-in birdie!

Halfway through the second round and there had been four birdies in all. Fireworks at the fifth.

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