Maggert loses it all -- on two holes

Jeff Maggert's scorecards
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bunkers are meant to penalize. But only to everyday chumps are they this severe.

Jeff Maggert will always wonder what he did to suffer such a cruel fate in two of Augusta National's bunkers Sunday during the final round of The Masters.

Talk about disasters.

One bunker on the front nine led to two penalty shots.

Another bunker on the back nine led to two more penalty shots.

With those strokes back, perhaps Maggert is wearing a green jacket Sunday instead of Mike Weir.

"I'd like to play a couple of holes over again, I'll say that,'' Maggert said.

Maggert, who began the final round with a two-shot lead over Weir, shot 75 to finish fifth, five strokes out of a sudden-death playoff.

But he was 8-over-par on two holes -- the par-4 third and the par-3 12th -- 5-under on the rest. If he even had managed bogeys on those holes, Maggert would have been right in the thick of the tournament.

His troubles began when he hit a 2-iron into a fairway bunker on the third hole, a 350-yard par-4 where he was trying to lay up. With a 53-degree sand wedge, he had just 106 yards to the hole.

But his approach caught the lip of the bunker and flew right back at him, hitting him in the chest. According to Rule 19-2b, that's a two-stroke penalty. It occurs when the ball accidently hits a player, his caddie or his equipment.

Maggert called the penalty on himself immediately, called on a rules official to confer, then stepped back into the bunker.

"My reflexes aren't what they used to be,'' Maggert said. "I've been in situations like that before with a buried lie and you're worried about hitting your foot. I just heard the ball hit the bunker and the next thing you know it hit me in the chest. I didn't want that incident to mark my day, so to speak. I tried to put it out of my mind and move forward.''

Maggert, literally, couldn't get out of his own way.

He had to play the shot from where it lay in the bunker, and with the two-stroke penalty, was hitting his fifth shot. He ended up with a triple-bogey 7 after holing an 18-foot putt to fall two strokes behind Weir.

From there, Maggert managed to get back into contention, making birdies at the fifth and 10th holes to trail Weir by just one.

That's when trouble found him again.

His 7-iron approach at the famous par-3 12th flew into a back bunker, where his ball came to rest in the grooves left in the sand by a rake near the top of the lip. "It was a lousy lie,'' he said.

With an awkward stance, his bunker shot came out hot, scooted across the green, over the bank and into the water. Many players' dreams have died in Rae's Creek, but not like this.

Since Rae's Creek is not a lateral hazard, Maggert had to go back across the Hogan Bridge water to play his fourth shot -- which he dumped in the water. "I wasn't ready to play the next shot, that's the easiest way I can put it,'' he said.

From the same place, Maggert dropped again, and disgustedly knocked the next shot onto the green. He two-putted for a quintuple-bogey 8.

Maggert did manage to birdie three straight holes coming in to salvage a fifth-place finish, his fifth top-five in a major.

And he had an amazing scorecard: five birdies, 11 pars, no bogeys, a triple-bogey and a quintuple-bogey.

What could have been.

"It was a very strange day,'' he said. "I don't think I ever had a day like that. Funny things happen on the golf course.''

Maggert wasn't laughing.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com