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07th Apr 2015

10 golfers who have suffered the famous Masters slump

Rory McIlroy will never forget day four in 2011

Neil Treacy

The Masters.

Green jackets, glorious sunshine and blushing pink azaleas. Fairways cut with a barber’s precision, green’s so tight and glistening they look like they’ve been painted on.

However for some, the Masters doesn’t look like that. For every monster putt and tear-jerking win on 18, we’ve seen enough chokes, meltdowns and collapses to know that while Augusta National sucks you in with her looks and her charm, she’ll chew you up and spit you back out in a second.

Plenty of golfers have found themselves in a Masters slump, and we’re taking a look back at some of Augusta National’s most famous meltdowns.

McIlroy’s trauma at the turn in 2011

Leading by four heading into the final round in 2011, a 21-year-old Rory McIlroy looked a safe bet to become the tournament’s second youngest winner. An early bogey and a run of birdies from Charl Schwartzel saw his lead cut completely, but after recovering, he was still ahead by one shot after nine holes of the final round.

It was here though that McIlroy wilted. He hooked wild and left into the houses off the tenth tee to post a triple-bogey, before things fell apart further on Amen Corner, bogeying the 11th and four-putting from inside 20 feet on the 12th.

Tom Weiskopf goes swimming in 1980

It’s not just leaders that feel the heat. In the 1980 Masters, four-time runner up Tom Weiskopf had the nightmare of all nightmares, finding the water in Rae’s Creek five times in a row on the par 3 12th hole, settling for a humiliating score of 13.

Think about that next time you duff it into the pond at your local.

Amateur hour with Ken Venturi

In its long and storied past, the Masters has never seen an amateur wearing the Green Jacket. In 1956, a then 24-year-old Ken Venturi looked like being the first and only man to do so, when he led by four entering the final round.

There were warning signs though. Despite a 66 and a 69 in his opening two rounds, Venturi shot a three over par round of 75 on day three, although he still retained his four shot lead.

In horrific conditions, Venturi played his final nine holes in six over par to finish with an eight over par round of 80. Just two players on the course broke par that afternoon, one being eventual winner Jack Burke. Burke trailed Venturi by eight shots heading into the final day, and his one under par round turned out to be enough to complete the biggest final day comeback in Masters history.

Casper’s ghostly round in 2005

When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. A former champion in 1970, then 73-year-old Billy Casper played his final round at Augusta in 2005. After ignoring a letter from the course previously asking him to not play any more (elderly former champions sometimes get asked this), Casper went on to the course and shot a whopping 106, for a cool 34 over par. Unsurprisingly, he never handed in the scorecard.

Greg’s Norman final day disasters

When you think of the Masters slump, Greg Norman is probably the first player you think of. The Great White Shark has been a runner up at Augusta three times.

After missing out narrowly to Jack Nicklaus in one of the most thrilling final day’s in Masters history in 1986, Norman was again a runner up 12 months later after Larry Mize’s miracle chip in from 140 feet in a playoff.

Of all the infamous Masters meltdowns, Norman’s collapse on the final day in 1996 trumps them all. Having tied a course record with a round of 63 on the opening day, Norman led by six heading into the final round, looking like finally picking up a green jacket, after two second place finishes.

But what followed – a round of 78 to lose by five shots – will go down in history as not just one of the Masters’ greatest chokes, but one of sport’s worst collapses.

For Faldo, it was a third Masters title, all three of which were won after a famous choke.

Check your scorecard. Always check your scorecard

While most famous Masters slumps have come out on the course, Argentina’s Roberto Di Vincenzo’s came in the clubhouse.

He thought he had done enough to secure a playoff against Bob Goalby in 1968, but an error on his scorecard killed his chance.

Di Vincenzo had made a birdie three on 17, but his playing partner marked him down for a four. He never double-checked the card before signing off on it, leaving him disqualified.

Scott Hoch misses from two feet

The first of Faldo’s titles came in 1989, and it was American Scott Hoch who coughed up the jacket.

Hoch was four under for the day and leading by one with three holes to play, but a bogey on the second last left he, Ben Crenshaw and clubhouse leader Nick Faldo tied on five under.

He barely missed with a fantastic 25 footer that would have won him the title on 18, and entered the playoff with Faldo still looking in decent shape. On the first playoff hole, Faldo bogeyed, leaving Hoch with just two feet of green between he and the hole, and an unlikely Masters title. However, Hoch got the yips and missed, eventually losing the championship to Faldo on the next hole.

Hoch also suffered an infamous choke on the 18th hole at the 1987 USPGA Championship, three-putting from inside 10 feet to miss out on a playoff.

Ray Floyd hands Faldo another green jacket

Not only was Ray Floyd carrying a four shot lead into the final round in 1990, at 48 years wise, he would have become the oldest ever champion at Augusta.

With a birdie putt in front of him and the chance to go two clear with one to play, he needed three attempts to send the ball into the hole. He survived the 18th to end up with a playoff with the defending champion Nick Faldo, and on the second of their sudden death holes, Floyd found the water, and Faldo tapped in for another green jacket.

Mike Donald’s 18 shot swing

1990 was also noteworthy for one of the quickest collapses the tournament has seen. While most golfers suffer their slumps on the final day, Mike Donald barely even made it to the weekend.

He shot a dazzling 64 on day one, before taking 18 extra shots the following afternoon in a 10 over par round of 82. He finished the tournament third last.

Ed Sneed feels Fuzzy under pressure

Three up, three to play. After leading by five heading into the final round, Ed Sneed was still three up teeing off on the 16th in 1979.

He bogeyed that, before sending the ball long with his approach on 17. He shipped back across to leave himself five foot for a par, but that one also missed the target.

On 18, again he missed the green from the fairway and signed off for another five. He chad come home in bogey, bogey, bogey, missing a par putt on each of the final three holes, with any one of them being enough to give him a green jacket.

By then, his race was run, and lost in the playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller.

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