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Damien McGrane takes two shot advantage
March 23, 2012

Robert Rock lost a chance to play in his first Masters by taking an 11 on the fourth hole of the Hassan II Trophy, while Ireland’s Damien McGrane opened with a 7-under 65 Thursday to lead by two strokes.

Rock is ranked 57th and this year held off Tiger Woods to win the Abu Dhabi Championship. He must finish first or second in this European Tour event to make the top 50 and assure a spot at Augusta National in two weeks.

He called it “a shame and a disappointment” that one hole cost him his Masters shot. He eagled the 17th but finished with a 77.

Spain’s Alejandro Canizares (67) was second, a stroke ahead of seven players, including former Ryder Cup player Phillip Price of Wales. Having difficult days were major winners John Daly (77) and Michael Campbell (81).

Rock’s wayward hole began when he drove over the barbed wire fence along the Atlantic shore. He played two provisional balls but the second one landed on a small salt bush.

“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.

“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.

Rock sat on the steps leading to the scorer’s hut ruing what happened.

“I have to try and find some way of finding some interest in playing the next few days,” he said.

With Rock out of contention, 18-year-old Matteo Manassero of Italy could take the last remaining European Tour qualifying spot for the Masters. He shot a 69 and would have to win to qualify.



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