STEPHEN GALLACHER blamed “terrible putting” as he was brought crashing back to earth on his Masters debut.
The 39-year-old Lothians man set out in the third round in a tie for tenth after opening rounds of 71 and 72 on his first visit to Augusta National.
But his hopes of a fairytale victory were destroyed by a nine-over-par 81 as the famous Georgia course punished him badly.
“I missed one fairway and shot 81,” he said after suffering a costly run around the turn.
Having earlier ran up his first double bogey of the week at the fourth, a second one at the ninth took him out in 40.
Starting for home, Gallacher then went double-bogey, double-bogey, bogey to see his name tumble down the leaderboard.
He repaired some of that damage with back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th and was unlucky not to get another one when his putt somehow stayed out at the par-3 16th.
But bogeys at both the 17th and 18th left the double Dubai Desert Classic winner down in a tie for 46th on eight-under alongside compatriot Sandy Lyle.
“It was just a tough day on the greens and nearly all my bad shots were from the fairway,” declared Gallacher.
“There was a couple of windswirls that meant I left myself on the wrong side and staring at three putts.
“The greens were a lot firmer today and along with back flags, if you leave yourself 30 or 40-footers, you are going to three-putt. I just did that and then when I hit it close, I missed them.”
Asked if a different mental toughness was required on this course when things started to go wrong, he added: “It is the same if you are going well as all you can do is pick you short and hit it.
“I am not trying to three-putt them. I am standing in the middle of the fairway and if your five yards out with your shot you’re in the bunker and you’ve now got a tough shot.
“And, if you hit the right club, you’re miles long and there is nothing you can do.”
The Ryder Cup hopeful insisted it was too early to say if the sore experience would see him learn more about the course than in those good opening efforts.
“I don’t know really as I didn’t hit that many bad shots and just a couple of shots where I left myself in the wrong place where I three-putted,” he said.
“You take the double bogeys away and ….. my putting was just terrible today.”