Na and Watson both made 10 on Augusta National’s par-3 12th hole, seven strokes over par. Na shot 81, which would have been a more respectable 74 had he parred No. 12; and Watson, the defending champion, finished with a 77, which would have been 70 with a par at the hole named “Golden Bell.”
They accepted their fates with relative good spirits after their rounds, especially when each was informed of the other’s identical score.
“So we tied,” Watson said. “If you’re not going to win, you’ve got to get in the record books somehow, so I’m the guy that got a double-digit score on a par 3.”
“It took me until three years ago to make my first hole-in-one,” Watson said. “If you play golf long enough you’re going to make a hole-in-one … and you’re going to go the other way as well. If you haven’t, you haven’t played enough golf.”
The scores were the same but the way they arrived at them was different.
Na, who has been battling a back injury, pumped three 8-irons into Rae’s Creek in an attempt to flag-hunt the right hole position. The first two attempts faded badly and never had a chance. The third one splashed about a yard short of the bank.
His fourth attempt — and seventh shot — went over the green, and he chipped on and 2-putted.
Na said he didn’t want to go to the drop area and hit because he believed it would have been a more difficult shot due to the angle to the hole.
“I went for the flag, which obviously you’re not supposed to do, but I’m back in the field, trying to make a birdie, maybe a 1,” Na said. “I hit a bad shot and I wanted to try it again, and hit another bad one. There was no point in me going to the drop zone. Plus, the drop zone is actually a very difficult shot with the right pin. I was trying to pull off a shot that is maybe a little low percentage, but I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Watson hit a 9-iron into the water on his tee shot but elected to go to the drop area. His first wedge shot from there also found the creek. Watson’s fifth shot went into the back bunker and he then skulled his shot over the green and into the water again.
“It makes it sound better than it really was,” Watson said of one-putting the 12th green.