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Two holes to test Tiger’s designs on donning a fifth Green Jacket

IT'S an astonishing eight years since Tiger Woods last won the Masters.

Sweeping changes made to the course in the wake of Tiger's fourth victory in 2005 made one of his happiest hunting grounds tougher for Woods.

For a start, rough was introduced to Augusta National for the 2006 Masters.

It wasn't thick by any means, but still placed greater premium on accuracy and conservatism off the tee, limiting the opportunity of big-hitters, especially the wayward Woods, to monster the course.

In particular, holes seven and 11 were effectively transformed into 'Tiger Traps', seriously affecting his performance on both.

"Those two holes, I think, have changed more than any other out there with the addition not only of distance, but also trees," said two-times US Open champion Andy North.

"Tiger played them exceptionally well before the changes but, since then, his numbers are really skewed compared to how they were. Basically, those two holes have changed the way he's been able to play the course."

Curtis Strange concurred. "Since 2005, Augusta has changed dramatically and those two holes in particular. I think Tiger's a huge favourite this week, but he has to drive the ball decent and he has to do that to win."

7th: Pampas

Par 4 (470 yards)

Stretched by 40 yards and significantly narrowed by the addition of trees on the right and left, this hole was transformed from a relatively easy birdie chance for Tiger into a demanding test of his ball-striking and restraint.

In 36 tournament rounds from 1997 up to Sunday at the 2005 Masters, Woods played the hole in an aggregate 11-under-par, racking up four birdies and just three bogeys in that time.

Yet he's made just one birdie (and holed out from the fairway for an eagle) there in 28 visits between 2006 and 2012, playing the hole in a cumulative four-over.

"It was a two-iron to get it down there to a little flat spot on the right-hand side and then you'd have anywhere between sand wedge to nine-iron," Tiger recalled.

"Now it's a tricky little tee shot. In recent years, when we had a little easterly wind, I've had three-wood and four-iron into the green, and that's not exactly a green you want to hit four-iron into."

11th: White Dogwood

Par 4 (505 yards)

The entry to Amen Corner was lengthened by just 15 yards for the 2006 Masters, but other far more severe alterations took place on an already challenging hole.

Woods actually was even-par for his 36 visits to 11 as a professional up to 2005, his eight birdies there matched by eight bogeys.

Since then, however, he's an aggregate eight-over for the hole, with just one birdie in seven years.

"Eleven is a way different hole," said Tiger. "We didn't have that span of trees down the right side that we do now and the tee was further up and to the left. We used be able to hit driver down there and leave a sand wedge or pitching wedge.

"Seve and Raymond Floyd always said, 'just hit it over where the gallery is (on the right), that's the angle to come in from'. Well, you can't get over there anymore, the hole is playing to the left. Today we're hitting a good drive, leaving anywhere between eight-iron to five-iron in. It's a much different hole."

Irish Independent