Matt Kuchar and the mystery of the missing mishit

The 12th at Augusta is one of the most famous, and deceptive, holes in all of golf. A short (155-yard) par-3, "Golden Bell" has been the site of some of the most famous shots in Masters history. It's also crushed a few dreams, and on Friday, it might have swallowed one too.

Matt Kuchar stepped to the 12th tee at 3-under, a few strokes off Rory McIlroy's lead. He gripped up, swung, and sent a beautiful, arcing shot into the air ...

... and it vanished.

Well, not vanished. It went somewhere. But the arc that the ball traveled made it appear that it had plugged into the top edge of that brilliant white sand trap there at the lower right of the photo above, and that's where Kuchar, his caddy and several Masters rules officials began their hunt. A few minutes later, they moved down to the edge of Rae's Creek, and the golf world was treated to the tease that one or more Augusta rules officials might actually fall into the water looking for the ball.

[Related: Tiger roars into contention]

Finally, they located the ball, but it was so buried that Kuchar couldn't gouge it out if he'd used a shovel. So he took a drop back on the other side of the creek, but his troubles didn't end there. His weak approach, perhaps a result of being spooked by the creek, left announcer David Feherty marveling that he'd "never seen anyone lay up from 60 yards before."

Kuchar finally got out from under the Golden Bell with a double-bogey 5, leaving him nine strokes off the lead. He's not out of it, not by any means, but 12 still awaits him two more times this weekend.

More Masters coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
Ogilvy tries to break Aussie curse
For Couples, Augusta is the fountain of youth
Amateurs struggle to keep up

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