Augusta National produces another drama-filled finish

dshirley@macon.comApril 14, 2013 

AUGUSTA -- This year’s Masters wasn’t one for the ages. It wasn’t even one that most people will remember, except for the controversy surrounding Tiger Woods and the two-shot penalty he was assessed Saturday morning.

But there was still plenty of drama Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club and an exciting finish to cap the day.

Isn’t there always?

Woods received a two-shot penalty Saturday morning for an improper drop during Friday’s round. The tension was thick early Saturday as many people said Woods should have been disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. When he wasn’t, there were people who criticized Augusta National for that and then jumped all over Woods for not withdrawing from the tournament and not doing the “right” thing.

But the Augusta Chronicle had photographic evidence that Woods’ drop could have been close enough to the original spot and he might not have deserved the penalty at all and certainly didn’t deserve to be disqualified.

Imagine where Woods would have been with those two shots (and think about the bad break that caused his ball to kick back into the water and lose two more shots). He finished at 5 under and lost four shots on the 15th hole Friday, meaning he would have been at 9 under, a score he would have posted with the other leaders still on the course. The drama level would have kicked up another level if that had been the case.

But none of that really matters because Woods did lose the four shots, and he had to settle for yet another top-10 Masters finish.

With Woods on the fringe of the hunt and really never contending Sunday, the tournament came down to a three-man battle between Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott and 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera. When Day dropped back late in the round -- he later admitted the pressure got to him -- that left Scott and Cabrera to fight it out, and they put on a heck of a show at the end.

First, Scott hit a beautiful putt on the 18th hole and set off a celebration worthy of a champion. But Cabrera, who was standing in the fairway when Scott made the long putt across the 18th green and saw every second of it, was up to the challenge. He knocked his approach shot close to the hole and then made the short putt for his own birdie to match Scott at 9 under and force a playoff.

For 10 minutes or so, the golf was as good as any Augusta National fans have ever seen. Scott set the level of the play with the birdie putt, and Cabrera matched it, and that strong play continued in the playoff.

On the second playoff hole, both players hit terrific drives and even better approach shots. Cabrera missed his birdie putt by inches, leaving the tournament in Scott’s hands. And he grabbed a hold of it and calmly sank another dramatic birdie putt.

Scott, who has come so close to winning majors many times before, raised his hands in celebration again. And after so many close calls, he finally he did so in victory.

Contact Daniel Shirley at

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