Largest Masters Leads Lost At Augusta

Largest Masters Leads Lost At Augusta National US Masters

Greg Norman's 1996 US Masters collapse

As Patrick Reed heads into the final round of the Masters with a three-shot advantage, we take a look back at the largest Masters leads lost at Augusta

Largest Masters Leads Lost At Augusta

No-one wants to be one of those players in the record books, but for anyone who has been in blistering form over the first 54 holes at the Masters and built a big lead, blowing a great opportunity is a possibility. And, the bigger the lead, the harder the fall will be should the wheels start to come off.

Related: US Masters Leaderboard

6 shots, Greg Norman, 1996

April 14, 1996 - a date the golfing world witnessed one of the most awkward Sunday meltdowns, certainly in Major Championship history. The 'Great White' opened with rounds of 63 and 69, the first of which equalled the course record, before adding a 71 on Saturday. He would play alongside Nick Faldo on the final day, but it would be a procession for Norman, surely...

Not so.

A snap hook off the 1st tee set the tone for the day and by the time he left the 8th he lead was down to three. Then, from the 10th to the 12th, matters would deteriorate to the extent where a four-shot swing would see Faldo take control.

Heavy with an uphill chip on the 10th, Norman was unable to hole the ten-footer for par. Another bogey. One-shot lead. Then at the par-4 11th he reached the green in regulation before shaving the lip with a 12-foot birdie effort. Even worse, the returning three-footer also stayed out. Bogey. The lead was now gone. A trip to Rae's Creek followed on 12, which led to a double and Faldo led by two.

Then, on 16, Norman found water again to rack up another double. Faldo closed with a 67 and from six behind he had won his third Green Jacket by five strokes.

Largest Masters Leads Lost At Augusta

Still smiling - Greg Norman despite his collapse at the Masters in 1996 [Getty Images]

5 shots, Ed Sneed, 1979

A five-shot lead that became a three-shot lead with three holes to play - you'd certainly prefer the latter with Amen Corner out the way. However, the closing three holes are no walk in the park. Sneed, who never did win a Major, bogeyed 16, 17 and 18, which included a failed six footer for par on the final hole. It would  have won him the Green Jacket, but it pulled up on the edge of the cup. Given the agony of his collapse, it's not surprising he didn't emerge victorious from the resulting three-man playoff. Victory belonged to Fuzzy Zoeller.

4 shots, Rory McIlroy, 2011

Rory McIlroy would be a popular winner this week should he haul Patrick Reed in, especially after he endured a nightmare at Augusta National in 2011. Like Norman in 1996, he opened with a bogey and looked edgy - understandably so. In truth, a four-shot advantage at Augusta National is not that great a lead, at least not with 18 holes to play and the Green Jacket on the line.

McIlroy's real problems started on the par-4 10th. His tee shot clattered around the pine trees and he ended up near a cabin. He managed to escape, but the tee shot had unnerved him and after he missed the green and encountered further difficulties with the trees, he racked up a triple.

It's tough on McIlroy that his troubles on 10 and four-putt double on 12 are what people remember most, because Charl Schwartzel holed his second to the short par-4 3rd to reach 11-under. The young Ulsterman had company early in his round and did his best to keep it together. Sadly, he crumbled under the pressure. We all know what happened two months later at the US Open, though...

Augusta National: Hardest Hole

Rory McIlroy in trouble on the difficult 10th hole at Augusta National during the 2011 Masters [Getty Images]

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Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.