Sergio Garcia’s defence of his Masters title was scuttled by a nightmarish 13 on the par-five 15th hole en route a nine-over-par 81 in yesterday’s first round.
Garcia had eagled the same hole in last year’s final round and went on to win his maiden Major title in a playoff over Justin Rose. This time around, Augusta National’s final par-five proved to be his undoing as he hit a six-iron second shot into the water before the green, took a drop, and then proceeded to hit four wedges into the same pond.
This was the third 13 in Masters history following Tommy Nakajima in 1978 at the par-five 13th and Tom Weiskopf in 1980 at the par-three 12th. The previous highest score on the 15th hole was 11, recorded by Jumbo Ozaki (1987), Ben Crenshaw (1997) and Ignacio Garrido (1998).
“It’s the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot … simple as that. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots but unfortunately the ball just didn’t want to stop. It’s just unfortunate,” said Garcia, who now looks unlikely to feature in the weekend play but will have to return on Sunday for the Green Jacket ceremony.
Nicknamed Firethorn, this 15th is one of the most famous par-fives in the world. The green is reachable in two if the wind is assisting but the second shot has to clear the pond and avoid spinning back into the water.
Garcia noted that if his second shot had carried two more yards, it would have been perfect. “Unfortunately, I flew it on the perfect spot for it to come back. Then I kept hitting good shots with the sand wedge but unfortunately, I don’t know why, the ball just wouldn’t stop.”