AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sergio Garcia eagled the 15th hole en route to victory at last year’s Masters. On Thursday, he needed 10 more strokes to complete the hole named Firethorn. His 13 matched the highest score in Masters history.
“It’s the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot. Simple as that,” Garcia said. “I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and unfortunately the ball just didn’t want to stop. It’s just unfortunate, but that’s what it is.”
Tommy Nakajima made a 13 on the second nine’s other par-5, No. 13, in 1978. Tom Weiskopf made one on the par-3 12th in 1980. Eleven was the previous high score at No. 15. Three players — Jumbo Ozaki (1987), Ben Crenshaw (1997) and Ignacio Garrido (1998) – did that.
Garcia followed the octuple-bogey with a birdie at the par-3 16th, then parred the last two holes for 81. It was the second-highest score shot Thursday (British Amateur champion Harry Ellis fired 86). Garcia may need to find a way to pass the time in Augusta this weekend as he waits to fill the defending champion’s duties in Sunday’s Green Jacket ceremony. It doesn’t look like he’ll be playing Augusta National past Friday.
Garcia hit his second shot into the water, then took his drop and hit four wedge shots into the water. He holed a 9-foot putt to avoid the highest score in Masters history.
“It was tough,” said U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman, who played alongside Garcia and Justin Thomas. “You don’t want to see anyone go through that.”
This is Garcia’s second 81 in the past three Masters. He also fired one in the third round in 2016. Of course, he sandwiched a win in between.
Last year, he bounced his 8-iron second shot off the flagstick in the final round. The eagle gave him a share of the lead with Justin Rose, whom Garcia went on to defeat in a playoff. “I probably hit one of the best 8-irons I’ve ever hit,” he said at the time.
Thursday’s trouble started for Garcia when he tried to hit the green with a 6-iron from 206 yards. “If it carries two more yards, it’s probably perfect,” Garcia said.
“And if it probably carries a foot less, it probably doesn’t go off the green and probably stays on the fringe like Doc’s ball did. Unfortunately, I flew it on the perfect spot for it to come back. And then I kept hitting good shots with the sand wedge and, unfortunately, I don’t know why, but the ball just wouldn’t stop.”