Dreams of winning jacket dashed after triple bogey
Midway through Sunday's final round of the Masters Tournament, co-leader Rory McIlroy stood 60 yards left of the 10th fairway, with his golf ball nestled between Peek and Berckman cabins.
Despite the look of the situation, McIlroy said the tee shot that sunk his chances Sunday was not that far off line.
"I felt comfortable on that tee shot all week," said McIlroy, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland who was attempting to become the second-youngest player to win a green jacket, behind Tiger Woods.
"For some reason, I just started it a little left of where I wanted to," he said. "It hit that tree (and bounded left), and I don't think anyone's been over there in those cabins before."
McIlroy punched out more or less sideways, but he left a long third shot on the difficult par-4 that he pulled left of the green to a "tricky spot."
That pitch hit a tree, and a chip and two putts followed.
All of a sudden, a triple-bogey seven left McIlroy at 8-under and scrambling. He would struggle on the next two holes and finish in a tie for 15th at 4-under.
"It was a character-building day, put it that way," said McIlroy, who couldn't help grinning as he walked off the 18th green.
His round of 8-over 80 tied Ken Venturi in 1956 and Sam Snead in 1951 for the highest round by a 54-hole leader in Masters history.
The leader by himself at 12-under heading into Sunday's round, McIlroy played the front nine in 37.
With Woods' front-nine surge of 31, McIlroy's lead was one as he headed to No. 10.
"I actually played OK the front nine. A couple putts didn't drop," he said. "When you have a one-shot lead going into the back nine at the Masters, you can't be doing too badly."
The disastrous 10th was followed by a bogey on the par-4 11th.
McIlroy found the green with his tee shot on the par-3 12th, but he four-putted for double bogey.
When his tee shot on No. 13 -- a reachable par-5 that offers the chance at eagle -- found the water left, McIlroy dropped his head in disappointment.
"Once I hit that tee shot on 13, I realized that was it," he said.
Less than a month shy of his 22nd birthday and already with plenty of major championship experience -- he finished third in last year's British Open -- McIlroy looked to the future.
"This was my first experience at it," he said. "Hopefully, next time I'm in this position, I'll be able to handle it a little better."
In McIlroy's two previous Masters in 2009 and 2010, he finished tied for 20th and missed the cut.
Reach Justin Williams at (706) 868-1222, ext. 116, or email@example.com.