This hole changed everything for Tiger Woods at the Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The 12th hole at Augusta National usually has something to say about who wins the Masters. The storied par-3 proved critical again Sunday afternoon, opening the door for Tiger Woods to claim his fifth green jacket.
Four players in the last two groupings found the water off the tee at the 12th, including Francesco Molinari, who was two shots ahead of Woods at the time. Tony Finau, also in contention and playing along with Woods and Molinari, also found the water as did Brooks Koepka, who was in the group ahead of Woods. All suffered double-bogey at the hole, while Woods managed a par. He left the hole tied with Molinari at 11-under, while Koepka dropped to 9-under and Finau went from 10-under to 8-under.
After another birdie at the par-5 13th, Woods took his first lead on Sunday at the Masters since 2005 when he made birdie at the 15th, breaking through a logjam of contenders that had jammed the leaderboard.
“That mistake Francesco made there let a lot of guys back into the tournament myself included,” Woods said. “There were so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine. There were so many guys that had a chance to win. The leaderboard was absolutely packed and everyone was playing well. You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there. Now I know why I’m balding. This stuff is hard.”
Molinari, the 2018 British Open champion and 54-hole leader at the Masters, blamed a poorly executed 8-iron for his missed shot at the 12.
“I think we picked the right shot and just didn’t hit it hard enough,” he said. “It was a tough today with the wind gusting. I managed to scramble well on the front nine. I just had a couple of mental lapses on the back nine that were costly.”
Molinari, who held the 54-hole lead by two strokes, also put the ball in the water at the par-5 15th after clipping a tree. He wound up with a 2-over 74 on Sunday to finish at 11-under, two strokes behind Woods. Koepka was 12-under and Finau 11-under.
“I think it wasn’t my day today,” Molinari said. “That ball on 12, if it’s 1 yard farther left it probably goes in the bunker. Obviously, I did a couple of things that I wish I had done differently. But I’ll learn from my mistakes.”
Finau said the 12th hole was the turning point. It played the hardest hole in the fourth round with an average of 3.338.
“I knew from then on I had to play pretty much perfect golf,” Finau said. “I still could have made something happen down the stretch. But 12 was kind of a big swing.”
Koepka, who would eagle the par-5 13th, said the wind slammed his ball at the 12th.
“Once it gets above those trees, it’s just a guessing game,” he said.