Masters 2012 Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson's Shaky Back 9 Will Cost Him

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIApril 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Henrik Stenson, but you could have given yourself a nice birthday gift with two more pars on Thursday. Henrik Stenson turned 36 today, but he slipped up badly on the back nine at the Masters.

He could have been miles ahead of the pack, but it wasn't meant to be.

He was seven under heading into the 14th hole. He bogeyed both the 14th and 16th hole. Luckily, he sandwiched in a birdie on 15. 

Stenson completely fell apart on 18 with a four-over-par. This served to make his day very regular.

If Stenson could have just maintained a par on those two holes, he would have finished the first round of the Masters with outstanding placement.

With players like Tiger Woods lurking at two under through 15, and Lee Westwood at three under through seven, Stenson could have used the cushion.

It was too early for him to have completely pulled away, but he could have taken some pressure off himself.

A seven-under for the first round would have been an impressive 65 for the day. That would almost certainly land him in the top two heading into the second round.

With the bogeys and the disastrous 18th hole, he settled for a one-under, but it could have been better.

From a confidence standpoint, it could be huge for a player who is currently ranked 71st on the tour. Of this year's tournaments, he has finished above 15th place only once. He could have used the huge lead as a confidence booster.

The nerves came as the day progressed. Those two shots could be the difference in winning, or at least believing he can win.

They likely led to him falling flat on his face on 18.

A far more talented player in Rory McIlroy fell victim to the pressure last season. It would stand to reason that Stenson could see a similar fate.

That one-under dropped him to ninth as his round concluded. He'll point to those two failed opportunities as early missed opportunities to take firm control of his day and possibly the tournament.

 

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