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Masters 2024: Brian Harman comes close to highest nine-hole score in Masters history as Augusta gets tough

April 12, 2024

Jamie Squire

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It was not an auspicious start to Brian Harman’s first major round as a major champ.

Harman, who won the Open Championship last July at Royal Liverpool in front of a crowd that didn’t want to see him do it, has been given a most hospitable welcome in his home state of Georgia this week at the 2024 Masters. Unfortunately the kindness did not extend to the course. Between the wind coming in and the course firming up, Augusta National is playing mean on Friday morning. A sentiment encapsulated in Harman’s finish.

The 37-year-old lefty made the turn in two-under 34, a score that temporarily placed him in the top 10. “Temporarily” is the operative word, as Harman made back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th and doubled the 13th, which was playing as the second-easiest hole on the course. Bad as that was, his fortunes did not improve.

His tee shot found the water on the par-3 16th and he three-putted off his drop, leading to a triple-bogey 6. His drive on the 17th found the 15th fairway, forcing a chip-out. His third reached a greenside bunker, where he couldn’t get up-and-down. There was another bad drive at the 18th and his second clipped a tree, traveling just 20 yards. The third again found a bunker and he blasted his fourth over the green, leading to this third straight 6 to end the round.

The final damage was a second-nine 47 for an 18-hole total of 81. If that sounds high, well, it is.

The score was the highest second-nine total since Ben Crenshaw turned in a 48 in 2015, and one shot away from the highest nine-hole total in Masters history. That "honor" belongs to Charles Kunkle Jr., who carded a 49 on Sunday on his way to a 95 at the 1956 tournament. Because that year did not feature a cut, Kunkle finished with a 340 total, a four-day figure that will never be topped. (In a related note, the 1957 Masters featured a cut.)

If there’s any consolation for Harman, it’s that he may have company as Augusta continues to toughen this afternoon. Besides, any sting should be alleviated by remembering he still owns the best trophy in golf.