Relive 11 Masters Water Disasters

From Seve to Spieth to Sergio, we look back at the most memorable Masters water disasters...

Masters water disasters
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With water on holes 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16, along with the pressure of coming down the stretch with a chance to win the Green Jacket (opens in new tab), it is no surprise that we have seen plenty of players' hopes of winning The Masters (opens in new tab) dashed by a trip or two to the water.

With that in mind, we look back at 11 of the most memorable 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.

Seve Ballesteros at the 1986 Masters

Had Seve navigated the water on 15, he might have won the 1986 Masters

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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.

Nick Faldo winning the 1990 Masters

Nick Faldo won two of his three Masters titles in a play-off on the 11th green

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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 was undone by Rae’s Creek (opens in new tab) 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.

Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters

Finding water twice on the back nine finished off Greg Norman's lingering hopes in 1996

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Tiger Woods, 15th, 2013

This one might seem like an unusual choice, 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.

Tiger Woods takes a penalty drop at the 15th during the 2013 Masters

Tiger Woods takes a penalty drop at the 15th during the 2013 Masters

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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 six into an eight. 

A disaster? Well, had his ball missed the flag and stopped close he could well have made four instead of eight. How many shots did he finish out of the lead come Sunday night? Four!

Jordan Spieth, 12th, 2016

Despite four successive birdies to close out the front nine, the 2015 champion Spieth had not played well from tee to green for much of the week, but had 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.

What happened next is the stuff of nightmares. 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, unsurprisingly, went long, and in the end he did well to get up and down from the back bunker for a quadruple-bogey seven. One more to add to a long list of Masters water disasters.

Sergio Garcia, 15th, 2018

Garcia was the defending champion in 2018 and was going along fairly averagely in his opening round. That was until he reached the 15th. The Spaniard had a wedge in for his third 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 hole in his victory the previous year.

Garcia shot 81, which was the highest opening round of any defending champion in history.

Koepka, Molinari, Poulter, Finau, 12th, 2019

Francesco Molinari on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2019 Masters

Molinari plays onto the 12th after finding the water with his tee shot

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All four players had realistic chances of victory heading into the back-nine on Masters Sunday in 2019. However, all of their hopes took a plunge when they 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 fifth 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 his Masters memories that he’d like to forget. He had to come back early on Friday to complete his first round and he hit a horrific tee shot at the 13th that was reminiscent of his 2011 final round nightmare.

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But what was to come at the 16th was far worse. So much so, in fact, that McIlroy himself could be heard saying "that's so bad" as soon as the ball left his club. 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 into 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.

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“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.

Tommy Nakajima at the 1978 Masters

Tommy Nakajima standing in front of a scoreboard during the 1978 Masters

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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 Hole 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. He was only outdone by Jack Nicklaus’ brilliance in one of the all-time classic Masters tournaments in 1975. But in 1980 he managed to run up a 13 at a par-3 and this is how it played out.

Tom Weiskopf at the 1980 Masters

Tom Weiskopf watches the flight of his ball with his caddie during the 1983 Masters

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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 again but decided to hit another from the tee box - same outcome. He then finally located the green and two-putted for a seven to make it 20 shots in two days on the par-3.

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