Augusta, Ga. – Sergio Garcia’s hero, Seve Ballesteros, required four putts from 15 feet away on the 16th green at the 1988 Masters, a shocking development for the owner of one of the best short games in golf history.
Someone asked Ballesteros to describe the hole. “I miss, I miss, I miss, I make,” he said.
Thursday, in the first round of the 2018 Masters, Garcia channeled Ballesteros’ serial frustration that day with the famous scene from the golf movie “Tin Cup,” hitting five balls into the pond in front of the 15th green and making a 13, tied for the highest score on any hole in Masters history.
He splashed, splashed, splashed …
Garcia arrived at Augusta National as the defending champion. He spent his news conference describing the extensive menu he had created for the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night. Thursday, he dined on humble pie, finishing with an 81 and all but ensuring he won’t even make the cut.
“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s one of those things. It’s the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot. Simple as that.
“I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, and unfortunately the ball just didn’t want to stop.’’
Garcia is half right. He hit a beautiful 6-iron to the front of the green and it slid back into the water, a demonstration of the degree of difficulty when attacking a pin on the front of the 15th green.
Then he hit four wedge shots that spun back into the water. On stickier greens, any of those shots might have stuck near the pin. On that green, a player using a wedge is required to launch the ball past the pin and spin it back, the way Jordan Spieth did in setting up his birdie on the hole.
Garcia kept hitting the same shot, and getting the same result. Only a lengthy putt kept him from carding a 14.
“Well, you saw it,” Garcia said. “I don’t think I need to describe it. It’s not the first time it’s been there, so it’s not new, but with the firmness of the greens and everything, I felt like the ball was going to stop and unfortunately for whatever reason it didn’t want to.”
The hole was a reminder of Garcia’s previous frustrations at Augusta National, which he often complained about before winning last year. Before 2017, he had produced more missed cuts (five) than top-10s (three) at the Masters.
“It’s just unfortunate,” he said. “But that’s what it is.”