Masters 2018

Garcia's hopes go up in smoke at Firethorn

Sergio Garcia looking dejected on the 16th tee after making a 13 on the 15th hole during the first round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday. His 81 was the worst first-round score for any reigning Masters champion.
Sergio Garcia looking dejected on the 16th tee after making a 13 on the 15th hole during the first round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday. His 81 was the worst first-round score for any reigning Masters champion.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Defending champion takes 13 shots on 15th, including five balls in the pond, in a nine-over 81 card

AUGUSTA (Georgia) • Sergio Garcia recently named his daughter Azalea after the 13th hole at Augusta National Golf Club that was key to his maiden Major title last year.

Despite racking up 13 strokes at the 15th on Thursday, the defending Masters champion revealed that he is not opposed to calling his second child Firethorn.

"That same hole gave me that Green Jacket last year so we might end up naming our next kid Firethorn after all," the 38-year-old tweeted yesterday.

The Spaniard had an eagle three at the par-five hole on the final day last year, propelling him into a sudden-death play-off with Justin Rose which he won. But any hopes of winning another Green Jacket went up in smoke at Firethorn after he drowned five balls in the pond guarding the green.

The world No. 9's second shot, with a six-iron from 205 yards, rolled into the water.

"I thought it was perfect, straight at the flag," he said, after carding a nine-over-par 81 - the worst first-round score for any reigning Masters champion.

"If it carries probably two more feet, it's probably good."

READY-MADE NAME

That same hole gave me that Green Jacket last year so we might end up naming our next kid Firethorn after all.

SERGIO GARCIA, tweeting yesterday.

His subsequent four shots were struck from less than 100 yards with a sand wedge. He cleared the water each time, but imparted too much backspin and watched in exasperation as ball after ball trickled back into the drink.

The previous worst was 11, by three players - Jumbo Ozaki in 1987, Ben Crenshaw in 1998 and Ignacio Garrido in 1999.

Still, the 15th hole ranks the easiest on the course after 81 previous editions. Garcia took just 16 shots to play the hole in four rounds last year, when Firethorn's scoring average was 4.93. It was playing as the second easiest hole on Thursday.

Garcia's octuple bogey was one of only four scores of double-bogey or worse with several groups still on the course.


He also matched Tom Weiskopf (12th hole in 1980) and Tommy Nakajima (13th hole in 1978) for the worst score at a single hole in the Masters. According to USA Today, American Weiskopf, who was following the event on radio while driving, said: "He gambled and lost. Augusta won.''

Downhill, measuring only 530 yards, the hole is short by modern par-five standards. The second shot typically offers high reward, but also high risk.

Judge and execute a shot well, usually from a downhill lie, and a player can find the putting surface and have a chance for a two-putt birdie or an eagle. But land short of the green and a tightly-mown bank will repel the ball back down into a watery grave.

"It's the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot," said Garcia.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Garcia's hopes go up in smoke at Firethorn'. Print Edition | Subscribe