Misses and Major disappointment: The Irish top-10s at Augusta

It remains the one Major that an Irishman has yet to win and that wait will go on until November at least. Rory McIlroy’s ill-fated back nine in 2011 put paid to the greatest chance of an Irishman donning the Green Jacket but what are the best Irish scores in Augusta?
Misses and Major disappointment: The Irish top-10s at Augusta

Pádraig Harrington in action during the 2008 US Masters. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
Pádraig Harrington in action during the 2008 US Masters. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

It remains the one Major that an Irishman has yet to win and that wait will go on until November at least. Rory McIlroy’s ill-fated back nine in 2011 put paid to the greatest chance of an Irishman donning the Green Jacket but what are the best Irish scores in Augusta?

As it turns out, there have been exactly 10 top-10 finishes.

2015: Rory McIlroy 4th, -12. Winner: Jordan Speith -18.

The highest-ever finish by an Irishman but then McIlroy was 10 shots off eventual champion Speith going into the final round when he scored a six-under 66 to shoot up the field, two behind joint runners-up Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

2002: Pádraig Harrington Tied 5th, -6. Winner: Tiger Woods -12.

The Dubliner needed to go low to stand any chance of challenging Woods and Retief Goosen who had held the lead after the third round. However, he posted a one-under 71, the same as Woods while Goosen fell off to finish three shots back.

2008: Pádraig Harrington Tied 5th, -2. Winner: Trevor Immelman -8.

A third round 69 had pushed Harrington into the top 10 but he still found himself nine shots adrift of South African Immelman, who could afford to finish with a 75 and still find himself three clear of Woods.

2018: Rory McIlroy, Tied 5th, -9. Winner: Patrick Reed -15.

McIlroy looked posed for glory when he went around in 65 shots on the Saturday only to disimprove by nine in the final round. He had been just three back from eventual winner Reed, who he had partnered on Sunday. Compensation came in the form of a $386,375 cheque.

2007: Pádraig Harrington Tied 7th, +5. Winner: Zach Johnson +1.

In some of the most difficult conditions in recent years, it was another disappointing Irish finish. The difference between Johnson and Harrington was their final rounds, Johnson shooting 69 and Harrington 73. They had both trailed Stuart Appelby by two after Saturday’s round.

2017: Rory McIlroy, Tied 7th, -3. Winner: Sergio Garcia -9.

One of McIlroy’s best conclusions in Georgia as he fired a 69 but then he had been out of contention heading into Sunday and Garcia also posted a three-under score for his round to claim his first Major.

2012: Pádraig Harrington Tied 8th, -4. Winner: Bubba Watson -10.

A 68 had pushed Harrington into a share for sixth, five shots behind the lead going into the final round. Alas, a level par 72 put paid to his chances as Watson, who had been two shots better after three rounds, claimed the first of two Green Jackets.

2014: Rory McIlroy Tied 8th, Level par. Winner: Bubba Watson -8.

What turned out to be one of five top-10 finishes for McIlroy at Augusta was again a tale of too little, too late. He wasn’t in contention going into the final round although his concluding 69 was one of the best in the field and catapulted him up the leaderboard.

1998: Darren Clarke, Tied 8th, -3. Winner: Mark O’Meara -9.

On this occasion, Clarke was the first Irishman since David Feherty in 1992 to play in the Masters (since then at least one Irishman has played every year). After an impressive 67 on the Saturday, he followed it up with a 69 to cap off an impressive debut earning $89,600.

2016: Rory McIlroy, Tied 10th, +1. Winner: Danny Willett -5.

In second place on three under, one behind Speith after day two, a third round 77 ended McIlroy’s aspirations. He was still only four shots behind but his final round 71 bore the scars of that Saturday slump.

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