Alan Dunbar looked to be heading for one of the highest rounds in Masters history but battled back bravely to salvage an 83.
The 22-year old British Amateur champion got off to a nightmare start at Augusta National when he bogeyed the first, triple bogeyed the second and then bogeyed the next six holes to be 10 over par with 10 holes still to play.
The worst score ever recorded in the Masters was a 95 by Charles Kunkle in 1956 (Billy Casper shot 106 in 2005 but didn’t return his card). But Dunbar played the last 10 holes in just one over and happily spoke to reporters afterwards despite finishing the day as the worst of the six amateurs as 14-year old Chinese player Tianglang Guan had just 25 putts in a sensational 73.
“I was just trying to stay positive,” Dunbar said after a torrid day on Augusta’s ferociously contoured greens. “I didn’t get off to an ideal start with a bogey at the first and a triple at the second and I just kept leaving myself on the wrong side of the hole on the front nine and couldn’t get down in two and kept making bogeys. I thought I hit the ball fine on the front nine and shot 10 over.”
Asked if you start to add up the numbers as your score snowballs to frightening proportions, he said: “You definitely do. On nine I had to hole a 30 footer for a par.
“I got a couple of yardages wrong and went long and that’s what happens at Augusta. You are going to short side yourself. That’s basically what happened on the front nine.”
After three-putting four times and taking 37 putts to be last in the field with the short stick, he said: “I hit the ball well but here it’s not about hitting the ball well, it’s about the greens.
“It’s definitely a learning experience around a course like this. I played with Trevor Immelman and he didn’t hit the ball better than me but he didn’t look like making a bogey all day. He just put the ball in the right place.”
Dunbar’s day began with a three-putt bogey at the first before an eight at the par-five second completely derailed his hopes.
“I snapped hooked it off the second, took a drop from the hazard and didn’t know it was on a root because of the pine straw,” he explained. “I couldn’t move them around the ball and I hit the root, the ball shot right into the trees and kicked back into the hazard.”
Bogeys quickly followed at the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth before he stopped the rot at the ninth to turn in 46.
The back nine was far more encouraging for the Rathmore man who bogeyed the 13th and 16th but birdied the par-five 15th.
“I enjoyed the whole way around. It wasn’t scoring great, but I enjoyed it. It was a great experience.
“It was good to see (my friends), they were watching, they were giving me encouragement. But there’s not much you can do if you’re struggling on the greens. It’s hard to hole putts if you can’t get the pace. You get the right line at times and then get the pace wrong.
“I’ll go out tomorrow and, as I say, I’ll try to leave myself in better positions.”
Fellow Rathmore man Graeme McDowell felt for his clubmate but insisted that he would learn from the experience.
“I noticed he got off to an awful start and I feel for the kid,” McDowell said as Dunbar was still in mid-round. “You don’t wish that on anyone.
“I remember coming through the ranks and people saying things to me after my tough days that it’s all experience.
“Those are kind of the most horrible, un-reassuring things that I ever heard in my life but 10 or 15 years on and I can see they were all building blocks to who I am and the way I play and my wins.
“But it’s a tough day and there’s no getting round that. He’ll learn and he’s good enough. He’s just got to bank it and move on.
“He’s probably going to feel embarrassed and small out there but it’s a wonderful problem to have, playing at the Masters as British Amateur champion.
“He’s going to turn pro after this and he’s got a great career ahead of him. He’ll be able to put today behind quickly enough. We’ve all had our bad days, days when nothing goes right.”