Golfers seem surprised at how tough Augusta is playing this year

Rory McIlroy fought for a 71 on Thursday. (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy fought for a 71 on Thursday. (Getty Images)

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It's the prettiest place in golf but it can also be the toughest. Golfers this week have seemed surprised by how difficult Augusta National is playing.

On Tuesday Phil Mickelson noted that he saw a change in the speed of the greens from recent years.

"What I saw today, were the greens getting back to what I call Masters speed," said Mickelson. "If that happens, the subtleties and the nuances and the penalty of Augusta National will come through."

Graeme McDowell had a putt on No. 15 on Thursday he said was just ridiculous.

"It was one of the fastest putts I've ever seen," he said. "I hit it half as hard as I wanted and it still went 15 feet past."

Brandt Snedeker said the wind isn't exactly helping things.

"The wind changed 15 times today," he said. "I watched Jamie (Donaldson) hit before me. He hit a pretty 8-iron into 12, and I hit one almost into Augusta Country Club, 30 yards over the green.

"It’s just playing tough. This golf course is right on the edge, it’s in perfect shape, and they got it exactly how they want it."

Rory McIlroy was more bold.

"[The greens are] fast already," said McIlroy. "By Sunday they’re going to be pretty dicey. I think every year you play practice rounds here, then there’s just a little extra fire in the course come Thurs­day. It’s a little firmer, a little faster. It’s to be expected here."

"I think that they set the course up very difficult today," he said. "The greens are firming up. The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score."

The pins aren't getting any more predictable, either.

Fred Couples insinuated that it might be more of a him thing than a course thing.

"It's hard for me personally to play a course this hard day after day after day after day for four solid rounds."

I really think something around 6 under or 7 under could win the tournament. Maybe they'll dump a ton of water on the course before the weekend but I doubt it. Which means we could be in for a long final 36 holes.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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