National

Masters: Amen Corner dooms Max Homa, Ludvig Åberg and Collin Morikawa

AUGUSTA, Ga. — These words seem pleasant, don’t they?

White Dogwood.

Golden Bell.

Amen Corner.

They sound beautiful. They feel calming. They elicit the scent of spring, rosy visions and the hum of a church choir.

On Sunday, during the final round of the 88th Masters Tournament, Augusta National’s famed stretch of golf holes — the par-4 11th (White Dogwood) and par-3 12th (Golden Bell) — turned into a nightmare for a trio of contenders.

All three felt the wrath of Amen Corner, Augusta National's famed three-hole, back-9 stretch: the 11th, 12th and 13th. On this Masters Sunday, like so many before it, the far southern edge of the golf course decided the tournament. It was lost here, with two of the most famous and difficult shots in golf: the approach into the 11th and tee shot into the 12th, each guarded by water.

They were ugly, rattling and demoralizing. They even drove one victim to alcohol. Pour one out for Max Homa, who says he plans to get tipsy Sunday night after his tee shot on 12 went long for a double bogey.

There’s also 24-year-old Ludvig Åberg, who capped his first ever major championship with a runner-up finish that could have been so much better had he not splashed his approach into the water at 11. And there’s Collin Morikawa, who started the day one shot behind and fell further back after finding the drink on 11 as well.

Homa and Åberg were just two shots behind eventual champion Scottie Scheffler when their Amen Corner nightmares arrived. Even Sheffler couldn't avoid stubbing himself on the 11th. He bogeyed before parring the 12th and birdieing the 13th, turning a four-way tie into a three-shot lead in the span of an hour.

In his wake were the 2024 victims of, perhaps, the most pressure-packed, toughest back-to-back golf swings in the sport. There have been plenty before them. Remember in 2016 when Jordan Spieth blew his big lead with a bogey at 11 and a quadruple 7 at 12? How about Greg Norman’s implosion in 1996, when he missed a 3-footer for par on 11 and then dunked his tee shot on 12?

Add Åberg, Homa and Morikawa to the mix. Though they didn’t hold the lead, they weren’t so far behind, clearly in striking distance to challenge Scheffler. But Amen Corner preys on those who those who barely miss, who incorrectly judge, who get too risky or even play too defensive.

From 207 yards away in the middle of the fairway, Åberg aimed to the right edge of 11’s green, well away from the pond guarding its left flank. His goal: Draw the shot into the center-left pin location.

From the gallery, his Swedish mentor, Peter Hanson, watched his pupil’s shot bound into the green’s left bank and splash into the pond.

“Long wait on the fairway. You stand up there and the wind is moving. You wait five or six minutes,” Hanson said afterward. “It was probably the toughest golf shot out there today.”

Today? Prior to the tournament, Keegan Bradley called the approach at 11 “the hardest shot in the world.”

The 11th, playing 520 yards Sunday, ranked as the most difficult hole on the course this week. There were more double bogeys or worse (22) than birdies (17). Twenty-two players found the front-left pond (about six per day).

Moments after Åberg’s shot, his playing partner, Homa, flew the 159-yard 12th’s green when he misjudged the wind, he said. His 9-iron shot took one bounce on the back edge of the green and then hopped into a strand of ivy along a steep bank. He needed an unplayable drop, couldn’t get up-and-down and carded a 5 on the shortest hole on the course.

“How’s tomorrow going to feel?” one reporter asked Homa during his post-round news conference.

“I haven’t drank in a really long time. I was planning on (drinking) Sunday after the Masters. So… not so good,” he replied.

On 12, Homa missed his spot by no more than three feet, he said, another reminder of Augusta’s cruel nature. As he approached the unplayable lie — deep in that gnarly stuff on the green’s back bank — he couldn’t help but think, “How is this fair?”

He stepped on the tee just one shot back of Scheffler. He left trailing by three.

“Twelve is hard. It didn’t feel fair,” he said. “I hit a really good shot. The professional answer is, ‘These things happen.’”

Here, on this southern edge of Augusta’s marvelous and beautiful layout, these things do indeed happen.

White Dogwood.

Golden Bell.

Amen Corner.

Beautiful? Calming? Rosy?

Sure.

But also: cruel, devilish and a nightmare.