Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Greg Norman know nothing is ever certain at The Masters on Sunday as Augusta dismantles champions-elect

How can somewhere so beautiful and peaceful cause so much destruction and chaos?

Augusta is a place which doesn’t even permit running, but that doesn’t stop thoughts of catastrophe racing around the minds of golfers on Sunday.

If DJ’s win was your first Masters experience, be warned: it’s not usually like that
Getty Images – Getty

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Like a November Masters, Dustin Johnson’s casual final round stroll at the 2020 tournament should not be considered the norm – just ask Greg Norman, Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth.

Amen Corner has made an unholy habit of bringing champions-elect to their knees down the years, proving there is no 54-hole lead which guarantees victory.

Winning on golf’s hallowed turf is what every player dreams of more than anything. Imagine a penalty to win the World Cup that lasts for about four hours – that’s what having the lead on Sunday must feel like.

Some rise to the occasion, others go full Roberto Baggio

Pour one out for Norman’s career at The Masters

There is only one place to start and that’s with Greg Norman, who spent 331 weeks at the top of the world rankings during a glittering career, but somehow never won The Masters.

In what can only be put down to a genuine curse, Norman really ought to have three green jackets. In 1986, the Aussie blew his one-shot lead ahead of the final round by missing a par putt on the 18th, which would’ve taken him to sudden-death with Jack Nicklaus.

Norman did make it into a play-off the following year, but only after a 20-foot putt to win the tournament on the 72nd hole missed by millimetres.

When Larry Mize holed a 47-yard chip on the second play-off hole, Norman must’ve wondered what he did to make the golfing Gods so mean.

Nobody deserved a green jacket more than the famous Aussie

And they weren’t finished with him yet. In fact, they reserved their harshest treatment for a 41-year-old Norman in 1996.

Having led for the entirety of the event, Norman not only blew the biggest lead in major championship history on the final day, but also ended up five shots behind Nick Faldo.

His six-shot advantage after the third round was extinguished after Norman dropped five shots in five holes, culminating in a double-bogey on the fearsome short par-three at 12.

More water on 16 meant Norman ended up shooting 78, while Faldo, playing alongside, carded a superb 67.

Faldo watched on as Norman self-destructed

But that was nothing compared to Rory McIlroy’s final day collapse in 2011.

Having also led through the first three days, a 21-year-old McIlroy shot the worst round in history by any golfer leading after 54-holes of The Masters.

Incredibly, the Northern Irishman still had the lead at the start of his back nine before Amen Corner swallowed him whole, eventually resulting in a tie for 15th place, ten shots off the lead.

A triple bogey on 10 and a four-putt double bogey on 12 denied him a first green jacket which he continues to chase today – and it’s the only one he needs to become the sixth golfer in history to win a career grand slam.

McIlroy endures one of the more miserable walks over Rae’s Creek in 2011
It was a day which continues to haunt the Northern Irishman

Jordan Spieth seemed immune to those sort of mental demons after winning the 2015 Masters, tying Tigers Woods’ then-record of 18-under.

But his next trip to Augusta would expose them for the world to see. As Faldo said at the time, Spieth’s collapse in 2016 ‘made Norman’s feel like a joyful stroll down Magnolia Lane’.

While Norman blew a big lead over the course the final round, Spieth threw it all away on Amen Corner. The Texan had actually increased his final-round advantage from one shot to five shots over the front nine on Sunday. It seemed inconceivable that he could lose.

But after bogeys at 10 and 11, Spieth lost two balls in the water on 12, making a quadruple-bogey which left him three shots back, as England’s Danny Willet famously seized the opportunity.

Spieth’s meltdown in 2016 is arguably the most catastrophic
To add insult to injury, Spieth had to put the green jacket on Willet

Although Spieth recovered to win the Open Championship in 2017, surviving a similar wobble on the final day, Augusta created wounds which have not fully healed in the five years since, until his return to form this season.

Of course we’re not hoping to see someone’s hope and dreams shatter on live television this Sunday… but it sure makes for incredible sporting theatre.

With a NOW Sports Membership stream World-Class Sport your way. For just £25 a month watch all the action from The Masters live this weekend, plus Premier League and F1 on Sky Sports this month with no contract. Saving 25%! Cancel any time. Terms Apply.

Source: Sport

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