AUGUSTA, Ga.—They say you can't win the Masters on the first day, but Ernie Els did his best to prove you can lose it on the very first hole.
Els carded an unbelievable 9 — the score was originally listed as a 10, to be changed only some four hours later when he finished — on the first hole of the Masters. Even worse: Els had a 2-foot putt for par, and somehow six-putted. (Masters.com's shot tracking system originally showed seven putts.)
One hole in, Els was 10 strokes behind the leader.
Els' turkey vulture—that's a term we just made up for a five-over-par score—wasn't just aesthetically awful. It was all-time historically terrible. The 9 was the worst shot ever recorded during a Masters at the par-4 first. It's tied for the fifth-worst score at a Masters hole all-time.
How did it happen? Well, here's a clue:
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Yeesh. Afterward, Els was at a loss to break down exactly what went wrong, but his quotes carried an ominous air. "It's hard to explain," he said. "A lot of people have stopped playing the game [because of problems like this]. I couldn't get the putter back."
In addition to the debacle at 1, Els missed a two-footer on 18 and a four-footer on 17, and suggested he left as many as 15 shots out on the course with his terrible flat-stick play.
And what about that flat stick? Most of us would sling the putter into the nearest lake, but Els indicated that the putter itself wasn't the problem. "You could be putting with a stick," he told Yahoo Sports. "If you've got snakes going on in your brain, there's something wrong. I make 20 straight three-foot putts on the practice green, and then I get out on the course ... "
Els tees off at 9:59 a.m. on Friday morning. This year's Masters is out of reach. Of concern now is how he'll remedy his putting issues for his next tournament.
Podcast: Masters talk with Fox Sports' Shane Bacon: