AUGUSTA, Georgia - Nothing like a snowman to put a damper on the party.
Henrik Stenson was one hole from celebrating his 36th birthday as the clubhouse leader at the Masters on Thursday. But that last hole, oh, what a doozy.
Stenson tumbled from the top of the leaderboard with a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 18th. He still finished at 1-under 71, but it may as well have been a 90.
“Finishing with an 8, I don't think I've ever done that,” Stenson said.
Stenson's problems started off the tee, when his drive hooked left and into some bushes. He thought he'd found enough of a gap to get out, but the ball got caught up and landed on some worn and trampled-down pine straw. Rather than take the easy out, he gave it a go with a 4-iron and carved it up the fairway.
His next shot flew the green, and he chunked the chip shot coming back. When he finally got on the green, he missed about a 3-footer for triple-bogey.
“If I would have gotten the second shot out on the fairway, it would have been a different story. That's normally what happens,” Stenson said. “You make a little mistake and then you compound it with another one, and it just keeps on snowballing, and I got the snowman in the end.
“You know, what to do?”
The dismal finish spoiled what had been a solid start for Stenson, who missed the cut the last two years and had not shot better than a 73 in his previous six rounds. He eagled both of the par-5s on the front nine, and was 6 under through 13.
But Stenson said he was flirting with trouble all over the back nine, and figured it was bound to catch up with him.
“After 11 I didn't hit one fairway off the tee, and that's obviously going to cost you at some point,” he said. “Though I didn't expect it to cost as much as it did on 18.”
Clearly annoyed after he signed his card, it appeared as if Stenson might dodge the media when he ducked behind the clubhouse and climbed into a cart. But he returned a few minutes later and was surprisingly composed as he answered more than a dozen questions in both Swedish and English.
“Well, I've got a temper,” he said, “but it's almost like I got past that stage.”