Until Thursday, Henrik Stenson was best known as the guy who once stripped down to his underwear to play a shot out of the mud. But on his final hole on the first day of the Masters, he couldn't have felt any more exposed or mortified. He carded a quadruple-bogey 8, tied for the worst ever recorded at the final hole in a Masters and saw the last of a three-shot lead vanish into the Augusta pines.
Hole No. 18 at Augusta, named "Holly," plays 465 yards uphill with potentially treacherous pine straw (yes, we did just type that) lining the hole. And it was exactly that straw that got Stenson into trouble. On his second shot amid the pine straw, he tried to get a drop but wasn't permitted to do so. He punched weakly onto the fairway, hammering his club on the ground in frustration. (At least he didn't injure himself with a tantrum this time.)
Oh, but the troubles were just beginning. He flew over the green and landed among the patrons with his fourth shot, didn't reach the green with his fifth, left his sixth about three feet short and in a final indignity missed the putt on his seventh shot. He fell from 5-under par and the lead to just another 1-under in the pack.
It was the ugliest kind of end to a day that had begun so well. Carding eagles on Nos. 2 and 8, Stenson was in command until the final stretch of the day, when he went bogey-birdie-bogey-par-snowman to give back five strokes.
Stenson tried to look on the bright side of life, however. "Very disappointing finish, but I had good fun out there. Made two great eagles," he said. "It's a new day tomorrow." Thank heaven for him this one's done.
As the Golf Channel noted, Stenson now holds the record for worst performance on two separate holes at Augusta; he quintuple-bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole in 2011. (Take heart, Henrik: The other two guys with that distinction are Arnold Palmer and Jumbo Ozaki, a couple Hall-of-Famers.)
Oh, and one other thing: Today's Stenson's birthday. Perhaps when he wished to make history at Augusta, he should have been more specific.
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