Amen Corner - it's beauty is undeniable - so to is the fact that it could be the most brutal stretch of holes in all of professional golf. On Friday morning we got two examples of how to handle the brutal life at holes 11, 12, and 13 as two of Thursdays most exciting stories went in vastly different directions in Amen Corner.
Of course we are talking about Tianlang Guang, the 14 year old amateur that had played himself into position to make the cut should he have a steady round of golf on Friday, and the venerable Sergio Garcia who found himself tied atop the leaderboard of the Masters for the 1st time ever following a completed day of competition.
Guang, easily the biggest hyped storyline of the tournament on Thursday (and rightfully so), came in to Amen Corner at +2 for the day, bogeying holes 4 and 7, and could've easily packed it in mentally. Instead, following a bad 2nd shot on No. 11 Guang buckled down and focused mentally, hitting a perfect chip to within a few feet of the hole. He made par and proceeded to not let one bad shot ruin his pretty good round of golf on the day, repeating pars on 12 and 13 and surviving Amen Corner like a true veteran would do.
Then... Well, we have what happend to the guy who can never seem to get out of his own way in a major.
Sergio, a veteran of 58 majors in his lifetime, wasn't playing his best round of golf heading into Amen Corner, after all he was already +2 on the day, but was at least still within easy reach of the lead. However, a shot into the water on 11 saw Garcia make bogey and drop to +3. He wasn't done though as he survived the par 3 12th - but looking rattled. That rattled and frustrated mentality cost him as he went off the rails again on 13, bogeying the hole and running Amen Corner at a disappointing +2.
Guan and Sergio may be heading in opposite directions this weekend as Guan sits on the cut line (at time of this writing) and Garcia remains in contention as Dustin Johnson and others couldn't pull away at the top of the leader board. But, if you saw Amen Corner happen to the two most talked about players from Thursday you'd think Garcia was the 14 year old kid buckling under the pressure and Guan was playing in his 58th major all-time and that, for me at least, is the most remarkable story of this tournament so far.