2004: The Masters - Contenders briefly steal Masters spotlight
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Some moved up, some moved down. At the 68th Masters, K.J. Choi, Sergio Garcia and Chris DiMarco were among those who did a little of both.
Choi and Garcia were in a similar position following the final round at Augusta National. Each shot back-nine 31s Sunday and wound up a footnote on a day that forever will be remembered for Phil Mickelson’s birdie to claim victory on the 72nd hole.
Still, Choi ended the championship alone in third place (71-70-72-69–282) and Garcia (72-72-75-66–285) tied for fourth with Bernhard Langer. DiMarco entered the round tied for the lead with Mickelson but shot 76 and tied for sixth at 286.
Choi, playing with Ernie Els, began the final round three shots off the lead and struggled on the front nine with two bogeys, making the turn in 38. But a crisp 5-iron on No. 11 – the third most difficult hole of the week – turned the Korean’s momentum around. Choi’s ball rolled straight into the cup for an eagle, only the third eagle on No. 11 in Masters history. (Brad Faxon made eagle in 2002, and Terry Barber did so in 1962). Choi, 33, then closed with birdies on 13, 14 and 16 to shoot 69 and record his career-best performance in a major championship, topping his tie for 15th last year at Augusta.
“More years, more experience, more comfortable,” said Choi, who opened with a front-nine 30 Friday to tie a course record. “This is going to help me positively with my swing and the development of my game.”
Garcia, 24, went 2 over through his first six holes but insisted he should have been under par.
On No. 6, his ball was heading for the pin but took an awkward bounce, ran into the gallery and Garcia made double bogey. He then made seven birdies and an eagle over the last 12 holes to jump into contention although he was well ahead of the leaders and had to wait nearly an hour to learn his fate. Still, Garcia’s 6-under 66 was the week’s lowest round.
“I just feel like I played well enough to win,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, I’m not going to. But that’s the majors. It’s not all about playing well – you’ve got to be lucky.”
DiMarco, 35, scrambled from the beginning, recording two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey en route to a front nine 39. Down the stretch, he made a birdie on 13 and ended with a double bogey on the 72nd hole to drop into a sixth-place tie with six others, his third top-12 finish in the last four Masters.
Although DiMarco made double bogey on the last hole, something good came out of the mishap. His putt for bogey was on a similar line as Mickelson’s birdie try, just inches longer. When DiMarco missed to the left, Mickelson confidently stepped up and sent the ball on its way.
“It was a sour note to end (on) for me,” DiMarco said, “but it was pretty fun to see Phil win his first major.”