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A wacky Sunday like no other at Augusta National
AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - They say the Masters doesn’t truly begin until the back nine on Sunday.
This one? Epic nuttiness.
So many lead changes you needed motion sickness pills to watch the scoreboard. A meltdown that makes Greg Norman’s heartbreak look good. And madness that went on right to the very end, until Charl Schwartzel made four straight birdies to end the hopes of all those players who’d had a chance to win it in the final two hours.
“There were so many numbers going up and down. It must have looked great on TV,” said Jason Day, who finished two strokes behind Schwartzel. “It was exciting stuff, it really was.”
For those who lost track of the leaderboard, here’s a rundown of some of the wackiness:
THE RUSH TO BUTLER CABIN: Despite a shaky front nine, Rory McIlroy had a 1-stroke lead as he walked to the 10th tee. All he had to do was make pars, and the green jacket would be his as a mere 21-year-old. But McIlroy, who still remembers Nick Faldo being gifted the Masters title by Norman in ‘96, collapsed in spectacular fashion.
He pulled his tee shot into the trees left of the fairway, and the ball apparently ricocheted between two of the club’s famous cabins. McIlroy had no choice but to punch it back out, but then yanked his approach shot left of the green, near a scoreboard, before banging a shot off a tree limb.
He finally chipped it onto the green _ barely. Two putts left him with a 7, and his lead was now a 2-shot deficit.
McIlroy could have survived it, but he three-putted for another bogey on No. 11. After a four-putt double-bogey on 12, the collapse was complete. After leading the first three days, the Northern Irishman wasn’t even on the leaderboard when the afternoon ended. He closed with an 80, finishing 10 strokes behind Schwartzel.
“I just hit a poor tee shot on 10 and unraveled from there,” McIlroy said. “I’ll have plenty more chances, I know that. It’s just very disappointing what happened today.”
TIGER’S ROAR: The roars were echoing through the pines like the old days as Tiger Woods reeled off four birdies and an eagle for a 31 on the front nine. Never mind his erratic game or the fact he hadn’t won since that infamous car crash 16 months ago. When he made the turn with a share of the lead, almost everyone expected him to tear through the back nine, dropping his challengers one by one.
But Woods isn’t quite his old self yet. A 3-footer for par should have been a gimme, but Woods banged it off the back of the cup for a bogey on No. 12. With a chance to take the outright lead on the par-5 15th, he missed another short putt for an eagle. He still made birdie, but on this wildest of days, it may as well have been a bogey for all the good it did him.
He would play his last three holes at par, and didn’t even bother sticking around for the finish.
BIRDIE STRING: Schwartzel running off four straight birdies was bigger, because they got him a green jacket. But Geoff Ogilvy made five in a row on Nos. 12 through 16 to jump to the top of the leader board.
“When I birdied 14, I thought I was in pretty good shape,” Ogilvy said.
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