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Augusta's 12th hole is a mere 8-iron for most pros and less for Bubba. Yet nearly as many balls will miss the target as find it during Masters week…
The Golden Bell is only 155 yards long, a mere 8-iron for today’s pros, so what can all the fuss possibly be about? Only uninitiated newcomers or those who haven’t sat glued to the TV coverage over the years could ever ask such a question, for everyone knows that Augusta's 12th hole is the most mysterious and perplexing 155 yards in golf.
The 12th hole has claimed as many losers as winners over the years, so here’s a little look-back at those who have famously fallen foul, and those who have come out on top…
Loser: 2013 – Bubba Watson, defending champion
Despite winning two of the last three Masters, Bubba is a cumulative eight-over par on the 12th in 24 competitive attempts, although admittedly seven of those dropped shots are down to the 10 he made in 2013’s final round. How did he make 10? Well, he holed a 15-footer to avoid an 11! Analyse Bubba’s 10 in depth, though, and it pretty much sums up everything that can go wrong on The Golden Bell: tee-shot into Rae’s Creek; third shot from the fairway into Rae’s Creek; fifth shot from the fairway into the back bunker; sixth shot from the bunker back into Rae’s Creek; eighth shot from the back bunker played out almost sideways to avoid a potential repeat; ninth shot chipped 15 feet past the hole; 15-footer holed for 10.
Loser: 1980 – Tom Weiskopf
Five in the water en route to a 13, the highest individual hole score relative to par in Masters history. Freely admits that wind was not a factor.
Winner: 1992 – Fred Couples
Miracles do happen! Couples came up short, but rather than roll into the water, his ball stuck on the bank from where he got up and down. Went on to win.
Loser: 1993 – Dan Forsman
One off the lead with seven to play, Forsman found water off the tee and again with a wedge from the fairway. Made seven and eventually finished 7th.
Winner: 1990 – Nick Faldo
Plugged in the back bunker, Faldo played what he would later describe as his career bunker shot, before holing a 15-footer to save par. Won in a play-off.
Loser: 1996 – Greg Norman
After missing a short one on 11 allowing Faldo to catch him, Norman finally lost his six-shot lead after rolling back into the water on 12 for a double.
Winner: 2003 – Scott Verplank
The American got one over on the 12th in a way no-one has done before or since by birdieing it all four days on the way to a career-best T8th.
Loser: 2011 – Rory McIlroy
With Rory’s final-round implosion in full swing he looked to have steadied the ship with a solid iron to the heart of the green. Four putts later, he was history.
Loser: 2012 - Peter Hanson
The Swede led going into Sunday, but was struggling even before hitting such a stone-cold shank on 12 that it didn’t even threaten the water. Finished 3rd.
Loser: 2013 – Kevin Na
Tin Cup moment with Na persevering with an 8-iron for all three water-bound balls en route to a 10: "I hit a bad shot and wanted to try it again,” he said.
Loser: 2014 – Phil Mickelson
Lefty missed his first cut in 17 years thanks to a Friday treble here… with no water involved! Front bunker, back bunker, front bunker, two putts.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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