The water on Augusta’s back nine had claimed many victims through the years, from Seve to Spieth to Sergio...
Masters Water Disasters
With water on 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16, along with the pressure of coming down the stretch with a chance to win the Green Jacket, it is no surprise that we have seen plenty of players’ hopes of winning The Masters dashed by the water.
Here are 11 Masters Water Disasters:
Seve Ballesteros, 15th, 1986
Seve had the tournament by the scruff of the neck standing in the middle of the 15th fairway having eagled the 13th just moments earlier. Jack Nicklaus was mounting his now-famous charge but Seve simply had to negotiate the water on 15 and he was surely home and dry. But torn between clubs, he opted for the 4-iron, quit on it badly and barely made it halfway across the pond. Game all but over.
Ray Floyd, second play-off hole, 1990
Floyd had three-putted the 17th to allow Faldo to take it to extra holes and then missed a makeable birdie chance on the first play-off hole. After both players had split the 11th fairway, Floyd inexplicably tugged his approach into the water to hand Faldo back-to-back Green Jackets.
Greg Norman, 12th and 16th, 1996
One of the most famous Masters meltdowns ever. Having fidgeted his way nervously through the first 11 holes, allowing Nick Faldo to catch him, Norman became one of Rae’s Creeks many, many victims on the 12th. For many observers, it was then all over even before he hooked his tee shot into the water again on the 16th prompting Alex Hay’s famous, “And that is curtains,” line. It was, indeed, curtains.
Related: The Masters Tee Times
Tiger Woods, 15th, 2013
An unusual choice this one maybe, for it happened in the second round rather than the cauldron of the back nine on Sunday. Tiger’s third shot into 15 was too perfect and rather than skipping once and potentially stopping stone dead, it struck the flag and rebounded back into the water.
One infamous bad drop later, and there was furore as to whether or not Tiger should have been disqualified. In the end they allowed him to play on, subject to a further two strokes being added to his score for the 15th hole turning a 6 into an 8. A disaster? Well, had his ball missed the flag and stopped dead he could well have made 4 instead of 8. How many shots did he finish out of the lead come Sunday night? 4!
Jordan Spieth, 12th, 2016
Despite four successive birdies to close out the front nine, the 2015 champion Spieth had not played well tee to green for much of the week, but been saved time and again by a red-hot putter. Eventually, the strain on his flat stick became too much, and his five-shot lead had already been reduced with scrappy bogeys on 10 and 11 before he set foot on the 12th tee.
Then it all went wrong. His tee-shot was never strong enough, and the ball found Rae’s Creek. Dropping back to presumably his favoured wedge distance, he then played the shot of a rank weekend hacker, chunking it so badly that it only just made the water.
The next one, not surprisingly, went long, and in the end he did well to get up and down from the back bunker for a quadruple bogey 7. One more to add to a long list of Masters water disasters.
Sergio Garcia, 15th, 2018
Garcia was defending champion in 2018 and going along fairly averagely in his opening round. That was until he reached the 15th.
The Spaniard had a wedge in for his 3rd shot to the par-5 and unfortunately spun it back into the water off of the green.
He repeated that four more times to hit FIVE balls in the water and scored a 13, matching the course’s highest score on any hole.
Ironically, this was literally one competitive round after he eagled the same very hole in his victory the previous year.
Garcia shot 81 in his opening round, which was the highest opening round of any defending champion in history.
Koepka, Molinari, Poulter Finau, 12th, 2019
All four players had realistic chances at victory heading into the back-nine on Masters Sunday in 2019. However all of their chances took a plunge as each of them found the water from the tee at the perilous 12th hole.
Of course we all remember what happened next. Tiger Woods found the green safely and went on to win his 5th Green Jacket and 15th Major title.
Rory McIlroy, 16th, 2020
On the card it will simply say a bogey four but, for now, it will be another chapter in Masters memories that he’d like to forget. He had to come back early on Friday to complete his first round and he hit an horrific tee shot at the 13th that was reminiscent of 2011, only worse.
But the tee shot at 16 was dreadful. In mid air McIlroy commented ‘that’s so bad’ which, we hoped, was a greenside bunker.
It landed in the middle of the water, not even close to dry land and he had to make a putt from off the green for the four. Sixteen holes in to a tournament that has, relatively speaking, haunted him and he was in tatters.
Adam Scott, 15th, 2020
There were similarities to Sergio Garcia’s woes when Scott saw his wedge ricochet back off the pin and into the creek having sunk his initial approach shot from long range.
The 2013 champ was four under for his first round but then the golfing gods intervened and he would make a double-bogey seven.
“The first mistake was not getting the first ball over the water well enough. Unfortunately, I think we hit the wrong club there, but then compounded that with a bad break. It was a good shot. I was nervous then when I was hitting my sixth shot because the six can turn to eight and it can spiral really out of control.”
Tommy Nakajima, 13th, 1978
This was a beauty. The Japanese star wasn’t on the par 5 in three shots and then found Rae’s Creek with his fourth. He then elected to play it out of the water and it popped up and landed on his foot for a two-shot penalty.
What happened next was even more surreal when he and his caddie, between them, dropped the club in the creek for another two shots. With his mind no doubt now frazzled Nakijima chipped over the green, chipped back and two-putted for a new Masters low and a 13.
This happened on the Friday and, needless to say, he missed the cut.
Just months later Nakajima was in contention at the Open at St Andrews when he putted into the Road Bunker at the 17th. He needed four shots to make it out, took nine and the ‘Sands of Nakajkima’ were christened.
Tom Weiskopf, 12th, 1980
Weiskopf was an Augusta specialist in the 70s with three seconds in four starts and five top 10s and he was only outdone by Jack Nicklaus’ brilliance in one of the all-time classic Masters in 1975. But in 1980 he managed to run up a 13 at a par 3 and this is how it played out.
First up he hit an 8-iron which spun back into the water. He moved forward to the drop zone which sat 60 yards off the putting surface and promptly hit five more balls into the water. He finally found the back of the green and two-putted.
The very next day he again found the creek but decided to hit another from the tee box but with the same result of more water. He then located the green and two-putted for a seven and 20 shots in two days on a par 3.