AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy had his best round of the week Sunday, shooting a 3-under 69 for his best career finish at the Masters, but none of it added up to a Green Jacket.
“It’s been a frustrating week, because I felt like from tee‑to‑green I played as good as the leaders,” said McIlroy, who tied for 10th with an even-par 288 total. “I don’t think I’ve ever played as good tee‑to‑green around this course as I have this week. I just need to take some more chances that I’ve given myself on the greens.”
Playing the par 5s in even par certainly didn’t help any.
By contrast, Bubba Watson played them in 8 under.
“You just can’t do that out here,” McIlroy continued. “You’re looking to play the par 5s somewhere around 10 to 12‑under par. And obviously if I had done that it would have been a different story.”
Instead, McIlroy again left Augusta National baffled. It’s not the first time.
A third-round 79 to knock him from contention a year ago. A weekend of 77-76 the year before. The final-round 80 in 2011.
This week it was a 77 in the second round that ultimately proved to be his undoing.
This was McIlroy’s sixth Masters but at the ripe age of 24 he’s still learning how to get around at Augusta National.
“I love the golf course,” he said. “I love playing it, and I know I can do well here. It’s just a matter of making the most of my chances because I gave myself plenty of chances here this week.”
Scott faded as the week progressed
AUGUSTA, GA. — Adam Scott’s title defense was looking very promising when he opened with a 69 that left him one stroke off the lead after the first round of the Masters.
But Scott simply couldn’t build on that strong start. He ended up well off the pace at 1 over after shooting 72 on Sunday.
The third round was the killer as Scott went out in 40 on the way to a disheartening 76. That round of 4 over tied for his highest score since he shot 78 in the second round of the 2007 Masters.
“I think as far as my game goes I was really happy with where I put myself on Friday night,” he said. “And without over analyzing it it’s always a bit here or there, but a poor nine holes on Saturday stopped all my momentum and had me on the back foot and I just couldn’t go anywhere from there.
“And that’s what it’s like at majors. You’re nine good holes from winning it and nine bad holes from being out of it. Without being too critical I think I just played an average nine holes and that was going to make it hard for me.”
Scott beat Angel Cabrera on the first extra hole last year to become the first Australian to win the Masters. He had played the three previous Masters in 25 under, so his struggles this week were surprising.
Scott only his 59 percent of the fairways and 67 percent of the greens in regulation. He used 122 putts and three-putted five times.
Staying patient was Scott’s goal on Sunday — and trying to make a run on the back nine.
“Once I made the turn, like I said, I felt like if it’s possible to get in at 4, you never know,” Scott said. “And then also you never know what can happen.
“Two eagles on the back nine is possible, but I just didn’t create enough opportunities. … It’s tough on a Sunday out here.”
Even though he didn’t play as well as he would have liked, Scott says the week was one he’ll never forget.
“The experiences I’ve had in playing a tournament as the defending champion and as a champion, and all the ovations that you receive around here is amazing memories for me,” Scott said.
Stadler plays well enough to return
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Kevin Stadler, 34, earned his first Masters invitation with his win at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. He made history when he arrived at Augusta, becoming the first son of a Masters champion to play the tournament.
He’ll be back next year.
The top 12 finishers earn invitations to the following year’s Masters. Stadler finished T8 at even-par 288 in spite of bogeys on his final two holes.
“I felt when I came out here a couple of weeks ago that the golf course suits my game,” Stadler said. “Certainly … a good reward. I just need a few minutes to let go over the last couple of holes there.”
Players not otherwise exempt for the 2015 Masters who finished in the top 12 are Jonas Blixt (T2), Jordan Spieth (T2), Miguel Angel Jimenez (fourth), Rickie Fowler (T5), Lee Westwood (seventh), Jimmy Walker (T8), John Senden (T8), Kevin Stadler (T8) and Thomas Bjorn (T8).
Stadler’s father, Craig, said that he would play his final Masters when his son qualified for the tournament. That may change now that Kevin will be back next year. Craig Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion, shot 82-77. The 60-year-old hasn’t made the Masters cut since 2007.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Kevin Stadler said. “It’s been a great week having him be out here. It would be cool if he played again. I totally get it if he doesn’t want to. The golf course is too long, too tough for him anymore. But I think he would still plan on coming out, regardless, playing the (Par 3 Contest) and all that stuff. But he loves coming here. But his score don’t show, but he’s still super competitive, and he hates putting up the numbers that he puts up around here. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s gone but I’d prefer him to come back.”
Other ways to qualify for the 2015 Masters include qualifying for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, winning a Tour event that awards more than 500 FedExCup, finishing in the top four in one of the year’s next three majors or being in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking at year’s end or the week before the 2015 Masters. Masters winners earn a lifetime exemption, while winners of other majors earn five-year Masters exemptions. The Players Championship winners get in the next three Masters.