Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Sergio Garcia officially worst defending winner in Masters history


Maybe one day, Sergio Garcia will learn golf’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different natural resource.

Garcia arrived at this week’s Masters as a defending champion. He left Friday with the worst performance by a defending champion in history. With a 78 in Friday’s second round, Garcia became only the 11th winner who failed to make the cut the following year.

It gets worse: Garcia’s 159 (15 over par) was the most inflated two-round score among the 11 former champions, three shots worse than Nick Faldo in 1997. Two fellow Spaniards with green jackets also failed to make the cut a year later: Seve Ballesteros did it twice (1981, 1984) and Jose Maria Olazabal (2000).

For what it’s worth, even Jack Nicklaus made the list: He won the Masters in 1966, but his second-round 79 a year later put him at 7 over and below the cut line.

Garcia did interviews with only Spanish-speaking media, saying: “I’m disappointed, and I would’ve loved to have a better defense of my title.”

He also blamed being cut solely on the 13 (a quintuple bogey) he took on the 15th hole in the first round when he hit a record five consecutive shots into the water that fronts the green.

Some quick math: even if Garcia parred that hole, he would’ve finished 7 over par and missed the cut.

But about the 15th: Garcia refused to acknowledge he made a mistake on his approach shot, let alone that he made the same mistake five times. Quoting: “It's the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, and unfortunately the ball just didn't want to stop.”

I’m a mere mortal. My list of credits include neither a PGA tour card nor a physics degree.

But here’s a thought: Hit it to another spot. Maybe to where there is no slope that might carry the ball into the water. Could that work?

Moving on. Here’s the Masters’ list of post-win infamy:

Golfer (year won): Following year
Sergio Garcia (2017): 81-78-159
Nick Faldo (1996): 75-81-156
Seve Ballesteros (1980): 78-76-154
Sandy Lyle (1988): 77-76-153
Ben Crenshaw (1995): 77-74-151 
Jack Nicklaus (1966): 72-79-151
Danny Willett (2016): 73-78-151
Tommy Aaron (1973): 77-73-150
Jose Maria Olazabal (1999): 72-77-149
Mike Weir (2003): 79-70-149
Seve Ballesteros (1983): 73-74-147

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.