- The Augusta Chronicle - Sunday, April 14, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. — There are perfect 10s. Then there were Kevin Na and Bubba Watson on Sunday in the final round of the Masters Tournament.

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.

“Did he really?” said Na, who finished when Watson was on the 14th hole. “Well, that makes me feel better.”

“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.”

Well, not quite. Watson and Na would have had to do a bit more damage to approach the record high for the hole, a 12 for Tom Weiskopf in the first round of the 1980 tournament.

“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.

Watson dropped in the bunker, but his next shot trickled off the left edge of the green. Watson chipped 20 feet past the hole and made the putt for 10.

“It makes it sound better than it really was,” Watson said of one-putting the 12th green.

When Na’s playing partner Brian Gay was asked about the sequence of events, he replied quickly, “Tin Cup,” a reference to the Kevin Costner golf movie in which Costner’s character kept pumping one ball after another into a water hazard.

“He was determined to keep reloading,” Gay said. “I wouldn’t have done it. I would have probably dropped and hit a wedge. The only thing he said to me was, ‘I was going for the pin to begin with.’ He’s like, ‘What have I got to lose?’ He was just stubborn enough to keep missing it over to the right.”

Na had a double-digit score on a hole another time during his PGA Tour career, in the 2011 Valero Texas Open. He drove into thick, tangled brush on the par-4 ninth hole of the TPC San Antonio and repeatedly hacked at the ball to get it out. Na eventually made a 16, leading to a nickname bestowed on him by PGA Tour caddies: “Candles.”

When asked if he had any flashbacks to that day, Na quickly said, “No.”

Na refused to blame his back problems on his 72-hole score of 13-over 301. But he said there was “no chance” he would have played if it had been any other tournament.

Give Na and Watson credit: They rebounded from their respective disasters. Na birdied three of his last six holes, including No. 18, and did not make another bogey. Watson played his final six holes at 1-under, with two birdies — with one also at No. 18.

The scores by Na and Watson at No. 10 were the highest on any hole this week.

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