Rory McIlroy and the Biggest Disappointments in Masters History
As much as Jim Nantz and the CBS crew like to babble on about Augusta's stunning beauty, from the luscious greens to the (almost) annual blooming of the azaleas, the course has a darker, more sadistic quality to it.
Augusta can appear inviting at times, with its four eminently reachable par fives and numerous slopes that feed balls down toward the cup. Rounds well into the 60s are not uncommon here, and five or six strokes to par can be lobbed off in nine holes alone.
Yet, the course is a study in the delicateness of "control." When a golfer has it on these grounds, the red numbers shoot up like fireworks. Players cruising around the course may even start to wonder "if" rather than "when" their next bogey will come.
That would be a foolish thought, naive at best. If and when a player does lose that "control," even by a fraction, Augusta can bite back swiftly and mercilessly. Any clean scorecard can be riddled by squares, and a round that may have appeared promising can balloon into the high 70s or low 80s. The hopes of putting on a green jacket, so realistic and promising at one point, may be entirely defeated by a series of splashes around Amen Corner.
Such is the brilliance of the Augusta layout. The course may bring jubilation to a player as he birdies his way through Sunday's back nine, but even just one bad shot or two may lead down a destructive path and torment a golfer for years to come.
Unfortunately, the latter is the focus of this list. Many a great player has experienced the euphoric feeling of a green jacket being slipped over their arms. The tales of near misses and woe are too present to be forgotten.
A player can be nothing short of effervescent on the first tee Thursday but in these 16 cases, such buoyancy turned to despair by Sunday evening.
Curtis Strange: 1985
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All smiles in this photo, but Curtis Strange is still unlikely to chuckle about what transpired at Augusta in 1985.
As the fiery (on-course profanities spewed out of his mouth like water out of a fire hose) American climbed up to the 10th tee that Masters Sunday, his lead was four, and a commanding four at that. Strange had opened in 80, but had blitzed Augusta since, firing rounds of 65 and 68 over the next two days to land himself in the final pairing with Raymond Floyd.
The birdie barrage re-commenced early Sunday afternoon. Strange played near perfect golf over the opening nine holes, riding a could-not-miss putter to four birdies, zero bogeys and the aforementioned four-shot lead. It appeared that day the rising young star would truly announce his domineering presence in the world of golf. He already had seven PGA Tour wins in tow, including two within the previous month.
A green jacket was going to send him well on his way to being a top dog in golf.
That's when the tournament veered from a snoozer into a melodrama. A charge by Bernhard Langer surfaced when he produced back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. Strange kept his cool, rebounding from a short par miss at 10 to bang home an emphatic birdie effort at the treacherous 12th.
He was ahead two shots as he prepared to go for the par-five 13th green in two and still firmly in control of the tournament. But that next shot turned out to be his worst of the week, a four-wood flailed out so far right that it actually bounced short of the creek before jumping in.
In one awful swing, Strange's confidence and grasp on the green jacket came unhinged. A bogey ensued at 13, and he added another one to his card when his second shot on the par-five 15th failed to carry the pond.
The two water balls left Strange suddenly one in back of Langer (who had shaved off another stroke to par) and when birdies eluded the young American over the last three holes, his bid to win the Masters came to a crushing conclusion.
Fortunately, Strange did become the game's best player in the second half of the 1980s, but he never won the Masters, and in 1985 he squandered a golden chance.
David Duval: 1998 and 2001
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In a way, David Duval's Sunday play at Augusta is reminiscent of Greg Norman.
No, there were no six-shot leads lost or one-in-a-million chips that found the bottom of the cup. Rather, Duval, like Norman, became adept at producing an exciting yet heart wrenching type of spectacle: An incredible final round charge marred by a lackluster finish.
Duval's first such instance was in 1998. A bogey on the first did not portend a great Sunday ahead for the 26-year-old American, but his fortunes soon changed. That first square became buried behind a flurry of circles, as Duval put up six birdies over the next 13 holes. Even when his 15-foot eagle putt just scurted by the right edge on 15, Duval had produced his seventh birdie of the day and was suddenly three shots out in front.
If Duval could finish strong and his playing partners behind cooperated by staying put, the green jacket was as good as his.
Neither happened. Duval bogeyed 16, and a Fred Couples eagle at 15 erased the remaining two of what was a three-shot lead. Ultimately two pars to finish for Duval could not save him, as Mark O'Meara birdied the 72nd hole to take the title outright.
In 2001, the Sunday birdie spirit caught Duval again. A three-shot deficit to start disappeared in a 10-hole opening stretch where Duval plastered Augusta with seven birdies (against two bogeys). His putter was hot from everywhere during that torrid march through the first part of the final round, and with that weapon in his arsenal, maybe it was Duval's day to deny Tiger Woods his fourth consecutive major title.
Just as suddenly, Duval's biggest asset became his biggest crutch. He three-putted the 13th for par, missed an eight-foot par-saving effort on 16 and when his birdie putts on 17 and 18 (12 and 6 feet respectively) slid by the cup, his last stab at tying Tiger had fizzled.
Duval did win his first major later that year, but he is still yet to win that maiden green jacket.
Hubert Green: 1978
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If Gene Sarazen's albatross in the 1935 Masters was known as "the shot heard 'round the world," Gary Player's Sunday performance in the 1978 edition of the tournament was certainly "the charge heard 'round the world."
Eight years before Nicklaus fired his miraculous closing salvo at Augusta, Player produced an even more stunning Sunday comeback. Beginning the day seven shots behind, the 42-year-old South African who hadn't won a major in close to four years rekindled the fire of old. A front-nine 34 got Player on track, and his play dialed up from lukewarm to scorching hot on the backside.
(Sidebar: Bobby Jones actually never wanted Augusta's closing nine holes to be called the "back nine" because it would lead to the word "backside" which is close to the word referring to one's posterior. As much as I admire Mr. Jones, I decided not to follow this hilariously prudish "word-ladder to butt" rule.)
Birdies at 10, 12, 13, 15 and 16 moved him to seven under for the day, and when he rammed home a 15-footer at 18 for a birdie and a back-nine 30, Player had shot 64 and vaulted into the lead. The man he had overtaken was Hubert Green, a 31-year-old American who had broken through with a U.S. Open victory the previous year.
Green had carried a three-shot lead heading into Sunday but now found himself a stroke behind playing the 18th. A disappointing day became decidedly less so when Green pumped a drive down the fairway and lasered an approach three feet from the cup.
Green suddenly just needed to push in this little tickler, and he was in a playoff with a man who had to be tired from making all of those birdies and had not hit a tournament shot in close to an hour. In other words, can this birdie effort and Green had a better than 50-50 shot of winning the 1978 Masters.
He had to make the putt first though. Only a yard standing between him and a playoff, Green chose an inopportune time to stroke a putt consistent with that of a lag. The end result of such a weak stroke was expected, short and on the low side edge of the cup.
It was a cruel way to taper off Green's courageous 18th hole effort.
Johnny Miller: 1971
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Looking back at Johnny Miller's illustrious golfing career, one that includes 25 PGA Tour victories and two major championships, it is easy to see why he became known as the patron saint of going low.
That designation actually surfaced well before the infamous 63 at Oakmont in 1973. In fact, even as a winless young player heading into the 1971 Masters, Miller already had the "going low" mystique, in large part due to a final-round 61 at the previous year's Phoenix Open.
The distinction was no myth and Miller proved as much at the Masters that Sunday. Starting the final round four shots off the lead, the California boy wasted no time in making clear that he would be a factor. Three birdies and no bogeys on the front nine got him to within two of the lead and he wasn't done there. A rare birdie at 11, another one on the next after holing a bunker shot and a third in four holes when his six-footer dropped on 14 meant Miller was six under par for the day and two clear of the field.
A transition late in the tournament from pursuer to pursued, if handled incorrectly, triggers a change in mindset that is fatal to a player's outlook for victory. The temptation is there to start thinking about winning rather than playing golf. Visions of glory occupy the mind rather than the one thing the player is there for in the first place: hitting good golf shots.
Such was the case with Miller that day, and, predictably, his game faltered. The lapse in concentration facilitated a disappointing par at 15 and a bogey at 16, two bad holes that erased both shots of his lead.
Another bogey at 18 sealed his fate, relegating him to a disappointing joint runner up finish (although at least he shared it with Jack Nicklaus) as the unknown Charles Coody won the 1971 Masters.
This defeat would be the most devastating in a series of squandered winning opportunities early in Miller's career. Luckily, he would recover just fine.
Gay Brewer: 1966
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It only takes one bad hole to ruin four rounds of brilliance.
Such was the case for Gay Brewer who, at the 1966 edition of the Masters, had quite surprisingly jumped out in front as he strolled up to the 72nd tee.
Brewer had lurked throughout the first 54 holes of the tournament but waited until Sunday to produce his most marvelous round of the four. On a tough scoring day, Brewer's three-under-par score through 17 holes was good enough to move him from two back at the beginning to one in front as he approached the last.
Needing a par to win, Brewer striped his drive right down the fairway and appeared to seal the tournament in the process. An approach shot to the middle of the green and two putts, and Gay Brewer was your 1966 Masters champion.
The nerves that were non-existent on the drive bubbled up on the second shot though. Brewer's approach carried well beyond the flag, stopping a full 40 feet above the hole.
The winner, previously, of eight PGA Tour tournaments, Brewer could not keep his composure to two-putt on the final green of a major championship stage. A misread left him five feet from the cup and his second strike with the flatstick was no better, a weak effort that lipped out on the low side and gave him a demoralizing bogey.
True, it still left him in a playoff, but he would be faced with the task of beating the one and only Jack Nicklaus (and Tommy Jacobs I guess) over 18 holes the next day.
He wasn't up to the task, sputtering out a listless 78 to Nicklaus' 70. Brewer had royally screwed up by far his best chance to win a green jacket, even if his victorious performance next year took away a bit of the sting.
Billy Joe Patton: 1954
Billy Joe Patton (middle) battles to the end but comes up short in the 1954 Masters
The 18th edition of the Masters famously concluded in a playoff between Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. What many people forget is that the most exciting moments of that tournament came from a different source, from a man with the name of Billy Joe Patton.
The 32-year-old amateur had stood in the background for most of that year's Masters. He had carded three solid rounds, but was five shots behind the seemingly unflappable Hogan.
That didn't mean Patton, a go-for-broke player, was going to sit passively on Sunday.
With one swing early on in the final round, Patton punched the air with electricity. It was a hole-in-one at the sixth, a happening that produced a roar so loud that the usually introspective Hogan was curious as to what was going on. Patton did not stop there, adding on birdies at No. 8 and No. 9 to get into a tie with Hogan for the tournament lead.
As Patton surveyed his second shot of over 200 yards to the par-five 13th, he remained in that co-leader position. Fully confident that he could steal Hogan's thunder and win his first Masters, Patton decided to go for the green in two.
Patton's ball found the water, and it did so again when he chunked his ensuing pitch. It resulted in a double bogey seven that severely handicapped his chances. Patton actually got help from Hogan, who uncharacteristically doubled the 11th hole.
It wasn't enough, after birdieing 14, Patton made his second double bogey on a par five in three holes. It was another crushing blow, but even with this madness, Patton still had an 18-footer for birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
The putt didn't drop and Patton had frittered away his bid for a green jacket. It was still a breakout week for the man from Morganton, North Carolina, but a win would've meant a heck of a lot more than a solo third.
Harvie Ward: 1958
His name rarely surfaces in any conversation of great golfers, but by the second half of the 1950s, Harvie Ward was almost impossible to miss.
In that time Ward was the golden boy of golf. He had risen to the pantheon of the game after securing back-to-back U.S. Amateur titles in 1955 and 1956. He was to be the next great amateur and the successor to Bobby Jones, a premonition made all the more plausible when Ward nearly won the Masters in 1957 before settling for fourth place.
Ward's charmed life then came to an abrupt halt. Only months later, the USGA found that Ward had violated the Rules of Amateur status for accepting travel expenses to multiple U.S. Opens, U.S. Amateurs, Open Championships and Masters. His amateur status would be revoked for one full year and he could apply for re-instatement after that.
This young Harvie was prohibited from attempting to obtain a third consecutive U.S. Amateur trophy. It was a slap in the face to a young player who didn't feel he had done anything wrong. After all, Ward had conducted business as a car salesman on those tournament trips, and, as an employee, he was entitled to compensation in order to recoup the costs of his travel.
Jones gave Ward an avenue for redemption, a way to show up the USGA, by inviting him to play in the 1958 Masters. If Ward could contend for or win the Masters, it would be a statement performance that could propel the wunderkind right back to the top when his amateur status was (likely) to be renewed a month later.
A year away from competition can feel like an eternity in golf though, and for Harvie it showed. His much hyped return was swift and joyless. Ward matched his dreadful opening 76 with another in round two, and the 32-year-old missed the cut. Just like that, Ward's comeback train skidded off the rails.
Ward would never record another top-10 in a major the rest of his career.
Ben Hogan: 1946
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There was a time when Ben Hogan simply could not win a major. Actually, that time extended most of his career.
For most of the 1930s, Hogan was just focused on staying financially solvent enough to stay on tour. A debilitating hook prevented him from becoming one of the game's better players.
By the 1940s he fixed that problem and started winning tournaments in bunches—four in 1940, five in 1941, six in 1942 and five in 1945. But none of them were majors (which, to be fair, was a much looser concept back in Hogan's day).
A breakthrough appeared imminent in 1946, and Hogan put himself in position to end his major drought at that year's Masters. Beginning the final round five shots behind Herman Kaiser, the Hawk steadily dropped the deficit until it was just one on the 18th hole.
Kaiser then opened the door even wider, three-putting for bogey on 18 to drop into a tie for the lead. Hogan, with just 12 feet left for birdie, was one sunk putt away from being a Masters champion. At the very least, he was going to two-putt and force a playoff against a relative unknown.
Hogan created a third option though. His first putt trickled 2.5 feet beyond the cup, and a tentative second stroke could not find the bottom either. Just like that Hogan had produced a three-putt bogey of his own (from 12 feet) and cost himself the Masters title.
Fortunately for Hogan, the miss didn't haunt him for too long. He won his first major title later that year, and added on eight more before he finished.
Ken Venturi: 1956
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A hot-shot kid from San Francisco nearly stole the show in the 20th edition of the Masters.
Ken Venturi, a month shy of his 25th birthday, arrived at Augusta in 1956 without a great deal of notoriety. This was despite being Byron Nelson's main mentee and beating defending U.S. Amateur champion Harvie Ward at the San Francisco City Championship a month earlier.
The recognition came soon enough. At the Masters, Venturi shot out of the gate the first day with a marvelous 66, good enough to place him atop the leader board. The jitters failed to materialize the following two rounds, as the 24-year-old posted scores of 69 and 75 to not only keep his lead but increase it to four heading into the final round.
One more solid round and Venturi would have numerous corporations fighting for his attention and, in fact, there was even talk that Venturi might succeed the aging Bobby Jones as president at Augusta National if he won (contingent that Venturi remained a lifelong amateur as well).
These worldly charms, however, would cruelly seduce the young Venturi. Caught up in the possibilities, Venturi was manhandled by Augusta National in Round 4. The American actually hit 15 greens in regulation in the final round, but his putter let him down massively. Venturi three-putted six times over the final 18 holes, an unthinkable amount for your weekend hack, let alone one of the top players in the world.
All of the extra strokes on the putting surfaces added up to a final-round 80, a score one shot high enough to let Jackie Burke Jr. slip into the green jacket rather than Venturi.
The San Francisco boy contended heavily at Augusta in 1958 and 1960 as well, but Arnold Palmer thwarted both attempts.
It seemed that after squandering the large 54-hole lead in 1956, Venturi had bad karma hanging over him at Augusta the rest of his career. Whether you want to believe that or not, the supremely talented Venturi never did win a green jacket.
Arnold Palmer: 1961
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Even guys with four green jackets have their troubles with Augusta from time to time. Yet, that didn't make Arnold Palmer's collapse at the 1961 Masters any less puzzling.
Palmer already secured two Masters to his name with victories in 1958 and 1960, and in 1961 had one arm in a third green jacket when he stood in the 72nd fairway with a one-shot lead.
What happened next is still odd to explain. One of the best players the game has ever seen, the same player who had birdied the final two holes to win the Masters the previous year, flat out choked.
His approach shot sailed out into the right green side bunker. Compounding the error, Palmer then skulled his bunker shot over the green. A chip back up to the surface left him 15 feet from the cup. Yes, after standing in the middle of the fairway in perfect position to attack this green, Palmer was left with a 15-footer for bogey to force a playoff.
A fourth poor stroke in a row made sure that wouldn't happen, and just like that, Gary Player was your 1961 Masters champion.
Rory McIlroy: 2011
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Let's not dwell on this one too long, we all know the story.
McIlory, the much-hyped, mop-headed kid from Northern Ireland, was well on his way to placing a green jacket in his closet at the age of 22. Three spectacular rounds of golf had left him 12-under par, four shots clear of the field and certainly well on his way to his first major championship.
Or maybe not.
It was not a serendipitious start Sunday as short par lip outs at No. 1 and No. 5, combined with a major charge from Tiger Woods, shaved all the strokes off of McIlroy's about a third of the way through the round. The 22-year-old, to his credit, did regroup and take back a one-stroke lead as he prepared to hit his drive on the 10th tee.
Of course this is when the real tragedy of the play came in. On 10, a duck-hooked drive put McIlroy in a hole that he only dug further until he tunneled through the other side with a triple bogey. Seven putts over the next two holes led to three more dropped strokes, and when McIlroy hooked his drive into the creek on 13, the calamity of it all really seemed to sink in.
At that moment, the usually cheery Northern Irishman slumped over, a physical indication that his charge had been resigned. He wasn't wrong there, the total of his lost strokes added up to an 80, a score so devastating that he finished a full 10 shots behind the victor.
The man was quite devastated by the carpet being ripped out from under him, so to speak. His tumble that day has mostly been forgotten since he's tacked on two major victories since, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Roberto De Vicenzo: 1968
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The conclusion to the 1968 Masters was an unfortunate event that overshadowed what had been an electrifying Sunday at Augusta.
Although the course had been lackluster all week in giving up red numbers (the leader after three rounds was a pedestrian six-under par), that didn't stop two men from authoring a shoot out for the ages over the final 18 holes.
The first man to strike was Roberto De Vicenzo, and he did so with authority. His scores in the first three holes: eagle, birdie, birdie. Not a bad start.
It did not faze Bob Goalby, who took a little time to heat up but charged relentlessly once the birdies started to drop. Goalby birdied No. 5, 6 and 8 to join the battle and climb within one by the end of the front nine.
The 39-year-old then carded two more birdies and when his eagle dropped on 15, he was seven-under par for the day. De Vicenzo matched him shot for shot, walking off the 18th green with a seven-under par score of his own. Goalby had begun the day one ahead of De Vicenzo, so a late bogey meant a playoff was in order for the two competitors who waltzed around Augusta in a combined 131 strokes.
Or so they thought.
In all of the commotion after finishing, De Vicenzo looked over his scorecard rather carelessly. A closer examination would have revealed that Tommy Aaron (who was keeping the Argentine's score) gave De Vicenzo a 4 on 17 when he made a 3. De Vicenzo signed his scorecard without fixing the error and by rule he had to take the higher score of 66 instead of 65, a change that forced the Argentine out of a playoff and Goalby into the green jacket.
It's a mistake that still lives in infamy almost a half-century later. The gaff has been even more pronounced due to De Vicenzo's candid reaction of, "What a stupid I am!" Whether it was stupid or not, it surely was a terrible error. De Vicenzo had done the hard part, playing his way into a playoff, to think that his downfall came to simply checking over numbers is rather embarrassing.
Scott Hoch: 1989
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Hoch rhymes with choke, a refrain we have commonly heard over the past two decades. It is not without reason, as the man with the namesake offered up one of the greatest examples of how to cough up a Masters victory.
The year was 1989 and the two men left standing were Hoch and Nick Faldo, the former carding a steady 69 and the latter putting together a monumental 65 on the last day. Despite handing in the lower score, Faldo appeared to be at a disadvantage in the ensuing playoff. All the birdies had drained him of much of his energy, and it showed when he bogeyed the first sudden-death playoff hole.
Meanwhile, Hoch had played the hole solidly. With just two feet left for par, the 33-year-old American looked to have this Masters wrapped up. The putt had a slight break to the right, but it was too short for that to matter. It was a gimme. He could've putted this blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back and it would've gone in.
Maybe that's the method he should have tried. With two hands on the club and his eyes seeing the ball, the hole and all the pressure that surrounded this next stroke, Hoch caved. The putt started out left and never came back enough, hitting the left edge and trundling a good three feet by the cup. Hoch made the next putt to extend the playoff, but his par effort was nonetheless a startling miss.
Again, it was two feet. That's a putting length some touring pros go years of tournament play without missing. Yet, from that distance Hoch barely hit the cup. Almost a quarter century later, it is a gaff that still defies belief.
Fueled by Hoch's choke, Faldo birdied the next playoff hole to improbably take the title, his first of three at Augusta. Hoch never did win that green jacket or a major of any kind, but he has only himself to blame.
Ed Sneed: 1979
The 1979 edition of the Masters had a familiar last name atop the leader board, only with a different spelling.
The venerable Sam Snead won the green jacket on three previous occasions, but well into his 60s, he was nowhere to be found on an Augusta leader board this time around. Instead, the unheralded Ed Sneed raced well in front of the pack, carrying a five-shot lead over the field as he teed it up Sunday afternoon.
The then three-time PGA Tour winner had never sniffed contention in a major, finishing inside the top 25 just one time, the year before at Augusta with a tie for 18th. It was a new domain for Sneed and even with a five-shot cushion, it would've been understandable for the newcomer to succomb to Sunday major championship pressure.
Only, for the first 15 holes of the final round, he did exactly the opposite. Three early bogeys let names like Watson, Nicklaus and a Masters rookie named Fuzzy Zoeller back in the tournament, but with birdies on 13 and 15, Sneed upped his lead back to three and looked to have all but sealed his first green jacket.
What happened next was pure tragedy. Three eminently makable par putts, three misses, including an agonizing six-footer that hung on the left edge of the cup on 18 and stayed there, and Sneed had tumbled from sure victor into a three-man playoff with Zoeller and Watson.
Surprisingly, Zoeller was the one who took advantage, birdieing the second playoff hole in sudden death to take home the Masters crown in his first try. Sneed never did get another chance to win any major (let alone a Masters) quite like the one he had standing on the 16th tee at Augusta that Sunday.
Sneed added his fourth and final PGA Tour victory three years later, but when his name comes up in conversation, all people are ever going to remember is bogey-bogey-bogey.
Kenny Perry: 2009
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For a while, Kenny Perry has been one of the best players never to win a major. As the final round of the 2009 Masters progressed though, it appeared his name would be removed from that list.
The gregarious man from Kentucky had experienced a career renaissance of sorts in the 12 months leading up to that Masters, winning four times in that span after being out of the victory circle for almost three years.
The good vibes continued at Augusta, where rounds of 68, 67 and 70 had him tied for the lead with 18 holes to go. For most of Sunday, his stellar play continued. A key birdie putt on 12 put Perry back in control and when he stuffed his tee shot on 16 two feet from the cup (and made the birdie putt to take a two-shot lead), the 48-year-old was on his way to his first major title.
He could even bogey one of the last two holes and his victory would be secure. Perry used up that first bogey on 17 after hitting a skittish chip that rolled 30 feet by the cup and well out of reasonable par-saving range. Troubling, but no problem if he could get his par four on 18.
Well, a poor drive into the bunker, a hooked second shot left of the green, a short-sided chip 15 feet past the cup, and a missed putt added up to the bogey he could not afford. In two holes, Perry had gone from in control to in a playoff.
Two holes later, Perry's tournament was over and he was not being prepared to fit into a green jacket. The man still is yet to win a major, making this huge waste of an opportunity all the more sad.
Greg Norman: Pick a Year
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How can we best encapsulate the Greg Norman experience at Augusta National?
Could we relay the instances where he charged up the leader board on Sunday only to make an untimely mistake that precipitated his demise? After all, he did that twice.
First was in 1986 when he birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17 to tie a rejuvenated Jack Nicklaus, only to cut-slice a four-iron well into the gallery from the middle of the fairway on 18, leading to a bogey that left him one shot behind the Golden Bear.
Second was in 1989 when the Shark preyed on Augusta with six birdies between holes No. 9 and No. 17. A poor approach on 18 though led to bogey, which proved to be one shot too much to land in a playoff.
That doesn't tell the whole story. It wasn't always a self-inflicted blow that cost Norman the green jacket. In 1987 he struck a birdie putt on 18 for the win right on line, only the ball, likely amused at the opportunity to torment the Australian, curled over the left edge at the last second to deny Norman his big chance. A more improbable event soon happened, as an unknown Augusta native named Larry Mize holed a 110-foot chip for birdie on the second playoff hole to dash Norman's dreams of a first green jacket.
Norman's experience can be equal parts bad luck and bad play. In 1999, Norman made a 35-footer for eagle on 13 Sunday to take a one-shot lead over Jose Maria Olazabal. Because it was against Greg Norman, Olazabal shrugged off the electrifying 3 and poured in a 20-footer for birdie to take back a share of the lead. The bad luck for Norman led to bad play, as bogeys on his next two holes sunk the Shark's last great chance at a green jacket.
Maybe the best way to describe Norman's Augusta adventures is simply pure agony. In that case, the 1996 edition is the appropriate symbol of Norman's time at the Masters.
One of golf's most re-told stories here. Norman dominated the field in 1996 for three days and shot out six ahead of the field. Then the Shark lost his bite, posting a final-round 78 that was every bit as agonizing as the score would indicate.
A Sunday 67 from Nick Faldo meant Norman would finish alone in second, five shots back. The picture above is of Norman in 1996 collapsing after his eagle chip on 15 (his last great chance to come back) grazed the cup and slid by the hole.
That look of dejection was an all too common one for a man who may've had as many green jackets as Palmer or Woods if his fortunes had differed.