Couples can’t get a 1992 break at 12th
Fred Couples couldn’t get the break he did in 1992.
Knowing he needed to be aggressive to have any chance at
catching Phil Mickelson, Couples tried to stuff an 8-iron right at
the pin on No. 12. But he hit it poorly, and the ball tumbled down
the slope in front of the green. He was in almost the exact same
spot when he won in 1992, but that ball hung up in the grass.
This one trickled into the water – effectively ending any
chance the 50-year-old had at becoming the oldest winner at Augusta
“That took a lot of steam out,” Couples said.
He would birdie his next two holes, and finished sixth, seven
strokes behind Mickelson at 279.
“I finished well and I had a great week,” Couples said. “I
have a game that’s suited to this course and what it means right
now is I’m really disappointed in a few shots, but at the same time
I’m glad to finish it out. So that’s pretty good for me.”
It was a good week for Couples.
After missing the cut the last two years, he looked an awful
lot like the “Boom Boom” of old, shooting a 66 on Thursday to
become the oldest player to hold the outright lead after the
opening round of this tournament. A rough finish Friday appeared to
take him out of contention, but he came back with a 68 on Saturday
that left him five strokes behind third-round leader Lee Westwood.
“This is my all-time favorite spot,” Couples said. “I had
a great time.”
CLOSE CALL: K.J. Choi got one of the last spots at the
Masters, and he made the most of it.
Choi, who only earned a trip to Augusta National three weeks
ago with second place at the Transitions Championship, tied for
fourth Sunday, finishing five shots behind Phil Mickelson. Add in
PGA champion Y.E. Yang, who tied for eighth, and South Korea had
two players in the top 10.
“In the past, the mindset of the Asian players was that when
it comes to the Masters, there was a fear factor there, that we
can’t do it,” Choi said. “But now I hope that this gives
motivation for the younger players, other players, that they can do
it at big tournaments like the Masters.”
Choi was actually even with Mickelson after a birdie on the
10th hole. But he unraveled on the 13th, a hole where he had made
birdie the previous three rounds. From the fairway, he tugged his
approach into the back bunker, leaving him a frightening shot down
a steep slope toward Rae’s Creek.
He barely got it out of the sand, then three-putted for a
bogey. Another bogey followed on the 14th.
This is the second time Choi was involved in a back-nine
shootout at Augusta National, finishing third in 2004.
“It was exciting like 2004,” Choi said. “Only this year I
think it was, on a personal level, it was better for me because my
playing level has improved a lot compared to 2004. So I’m more
Not even playing all four rounds with Tiger Woods could faze
him. This was the first tournament Woods had played since the sex
scandal that made him tabloid fodder and the butt of late-night
jokes, and all eyes were on him.
“I think we’re playing the Monday qualifier for Hilton Head
tomorrow,” Woods joked. “No, it was a fun week. We have always
had fun playing, with and against each other, and this was no
COME ON BACK, Y’ALL: Nick Watney’s 65 matched the low round
of the Masters.
Got him an invitation back for next year, too.
The top 16 and ties automatically qualify for next year’s
Masters, and Watney finished alone in seventh place.
“It’s always nice to nail down an invitation,” said Watney,
who began the day tied for 16th. “I felt like if I played a good
round that would take care of itself. Then once I got off to a good
start I just kind of wanted to keep it going and kind of ignored
all the, tried not to get too lost in the moment. But it’s
definitely nice to have an invitation back here next year.”
Also earning return trips were Lee Westwood; Anthony Kim;
K.J. Choi; Hunter Mahan; Ricky Barnes; Ian Poulter; Miguel Angel
Jimenez; Jerry Kelly; Ryan Moore; David Toms and Steve Marino.
Winner Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Trevor
Immelman were already exempt as past champions.
EAGLE-EYED: There were 34 eagles at this Masters, three shy
of the tournament record set in 1991.
No. 15 produced the most, with 15. That’s three shy of the
record for a single hole, also set on 15 and also in 1991. There
were 10 on No. 13, three on No. 2 and two each on the seventh and
16th holes. There was one apiece on No. 8 and 14 – the one on 14
coming Saturday when winner Phil Mickelson holed out from the
Mickelson had also had an eagle on 13 Saturday, joining Dan
Pohl (1982) and Dustin Johnson (2009) as the only players to make
them on consecutive holes.
And Tiger Woods made four eagles, equaling the individual
record for a single tournament.
“There’s a lot going on,” said Fred Couples, who eagled 15
on Saturday. “We haven’t really had this course, since they
lengthened it, this dry and fast. So a lot of the holes are a
little shorter than they normally are, which helps.”
ONE TAKE: Nathan Green and Ryan Moore have a place in Masters
Some nice crystal, too.
Green and Moore each aced the 170-yard 16th Sunday, only the
second time there have been two holes-in-one in the same round at
Augusta National. Padraig Harrington and Kirk Triplett did it in
2004 – playing in the same group, no less.
“It was disbelief a little bit at first,” Moore said. “I’m
watching it, you can kind of see it and you hope your eyes aren’t
playing tricks on you. It’s the loudest roar I’ve ever heard in my
entire life – certainly for me.”
The aces were the first at the Masters since Ian Poulter’s in
2008, which also came on 16. Of the 21 holes in one at the Masters,
most – 12 – have come on No. 16.
With the pin tucked tightly on the left edge of the green,
the pond a few feet away, Green used a 6-iron, Moore a 7-iron. Both
balls landed in the middle of the green, well below the cup, but
curved toward the hole and rolled ever-so-slowly into the cup.
“It’s a nice way to end the week,” said Moore, who shot a
68 and finished at 2 under.
For Green, it was a little bright spot in what was otherwise
a dismal week. The Australian finished last, failing to break par
in his first trip to the Masters.
“If you’re playing bad it’s not that much fun,” said Green,
who shot 3-over 75 Sunday. “It’s just a disappointing last two
days in some respects. But sort of a good way to finish, I
Both receive a large crystal bowl for their efforts.