Maria Fassi shows that great decisions don't always pay off at the Augusta National Women's Amateur

April 7, 2019

Lost in the celebration of yesterday's final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur was an excellent strategy decision by the loser of the event.

 

Jenifer Kupcho's outstanding back nine at Augusta National capped a fantastic debut for the first ever women's event at the most prestigious club in America. 

 

Everyone has continued to talk about Kupcho's beautiful hybrid second shot into the par-5 13th hole on Saturday, setting up an eagle try from 6 feet. Kupcho converted the putt to regain a share of the lead after beginning the day holding one stroke ahead of Maria Fassi.

 

Kupcho birdied three of the next five holes to fire a final-round 67 and win by four over Fassi.

 

However, it seems as though everyone has forgotten about Fassi's situation on the same hole.

 

After Kupcho knocked it stiff, Fassi was faced with a difficult decision of trying to match the Wake Forrest senior with an attempt at the green from a shorter yarder, but also from the right first cut of rough on a severe sidehill lie. 

 

The 13th hole at Augusta is possibly the best and most famous par-5 in the world. A dogleg left with a stream down the left side before crossing in front of the green. It is a true risk-reward hole.

 

The long-hitting Fassi smartly decided the risk was not worth the reward and laid up to about 30 yards short of the green, in front of the creek.

 

From there, her pitch was just outside of Kupcho and Arkansas senior could not convert the putt. Fassi watched as her two-shot lead was erased thanks to Kupcho's eagle.

 

She made the right decision, but it just didn't pay off.

 

Fassi could have easily lost the tournament with a poor attempt at the green that could have found the water. Even if the ball found dry land, it's Augusta National and the 13th green is one of the most difficult putting surfaces out there. Hitting it over the green and leaving a pitch back toward the water was no bargain either.

 

Instead the Mexico native, who grew up idolizing LPGA-great Lorena Ochoa, made the boring par on the risk-reward hole. But she was by no means out of it.

 

Fassi didn't lose the tournament on 13. She was beaten by Kupcho's torrid back nine. Fassi even regained the lead on the very next hole with a birdie on the difficult 14th.

 

Ultimately, it was a poor drive on the par-5 15th and Kupcho's birdies on that hole and 16 that led to her hoisting the trophy.

 

Many amateurs would have gone for the green in Fassi's situation on 13, but she made the pro's move to lay-up and not hit the so called "hero-shot" that has become a staple at that hole (see Mickelson, Phil).

 

It's a lesson learned that just because your decision doesn't pay off in the end, it doesn't make it the wrong decision either.

 

Maria Fassi will be in the same situation again one day soon. It could even be against Kupcho again at next month's NCAA Championship. I hope she makes the same decision, but this time, it pays off.

 

 

 

 

 

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