AGADIR, Morocco – A bitterly disappointed Robert Rock ruled out making his Masters debut next month after taking an 11 on the fourth hole during his opening round of the Hassan II Trophy on Thursday.
Damien McGrane of Ireland led by two strokes after carding a 7-under-par 65.
Rock, ranked 57th, needs to finish first or second in Agadir this week to make the top-50 world rankings and be assured of competing at Augusta National in two weeks.
The Englishman who kept Tiger Woods at bay to capture the Abu Dhabi Championship this year saw his hopes dive early on the par-four No. 4 hole of the Gulf du Palais Royal course. Off the tee he drove left out of bounds and over the barbed wire fence running the length of the Atlantic shoreline. He then played two provisional balls but managed to find the second that was resting on a small salt bush.
“I thought I could hit the ball even though it was sitting a little off the ground so I took a big swipe at the ball but didn’t manage to move it,” he said.
“So without changing my stance I then managed to move the ball about two feet and from there I now hit my sixth shot back onto the fairway.”
Rock had 212 yards to the pin but his 4-iron seventh shot landed short of the green. His eighth ran 10 feet past the hole, and then he three-putted for an 11.
However, he regrouped somewhat when he eagled the 17th in an eventual round of 5-over 77.
Rock sat on the steps leading into the scorer’s hut expressing his disappointment, and in no doubt that he’d lost the chance to compete in his first Masters.
“I think I had a 12 or an 11 when I was first starting to play golf but nothing like this score for a long time in my pro career,” he said.
“But it was my main intention in coming here this week to try and qualify for the Masters and hopefully it was to be the end result of a good week. I was looking forward to playing this course but it’s not to be, and I have to try and find some way of finding some interest in playing the next few days.
“It’s a shame and a disappointment I won’t be going to the Masters just because of what happened at one hole.”
With Rock ruling out his chances, the last remaining European Tour qualifying spot into the Masters is in the hands of 18-year-old Matteo Manassero, who also must win this week.
Manassero’s 69 left him four strokes behind McGrane.
McGrane kickstarted his round with an eagle, and he birdied four of his closing five holes.
Alejandro Canizares of Spain shot 67 and is sitting in second place, a stroke ahead of seven players, including former Ryder Cup player Phillip Price of Wales.
John Daly returned to competition with a 77, while playing partner and 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell scored 81.
After commencing with two birdies, the crestfallen New Zealander dropped six strokes in his last four holes.
It left Campbell third-to-last in the 126-player field, and just one stroke fewer than former U.S. Amateur winner Peter Uihlein, who had a consecutive quadruple and double bogey during his 83.