Over the next few minutes, more cheers could be heard from all corners of Augusta each time Woods‘ score was posted on a leaderboard. He still had the back nine to play, and momentum was on his side.
Not for long, though.
He missed a 3-foot par putt on the 12th, failed to birdie the par-5 13th with a 7-iron for his second shot. Then, after twirling his 7-iron with a shot so pure it settled 4 feet away on the par-5 15th, he missed the 4-foot eagle putt.
Woods closed with a 67, his best final round ever here. But he shot a 36 on the back nine, and that doesn’t win the Masters, certainly not this one.
“I got off to a nice start there and posted 31,” he said. “And then on the back nine, could have capitalized some more.”
Which shot would he like to have back?
“Oh, we can’t do that,” Woods said. “We do that every week and we would go crazy, wouldn’t we?”
Schwartzel finished at 14-under 274 and moves to No. 11 in the world, making him the No. 1 player in South Africa. He becomes the sixth South African to win a major.
“It’s been such a short time to think about what can happen. It’s a dream for me,” Schwartzel said. “It’s obviously the highlight of my golf career, by a long way. I always thought if there was one I would win, it would be this one.”
For Scott and Day, it was bitter disappointment for themselves and their country. The Masters is the only major an Australian has never won, and it has become a rallying cry for so many players who watched Norman endure years of heartache.
Scott, who switched to a long putter in February, took the lead for the first time with a short birdie on the 14th and had the look of a winner with his tee shot to tap-in range on the 16th, and a clutch par save from the bunker on the 17th.
He missed his 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole that he ran 4 feet by and settled for a 67.
“I don’t think I can ask for anything more,” Scott said. “I had a putt at it at the last _ not my best, but everything else was pretty good today.”
Day came to life at the end with consecutive birdies that allowed him to shoot 68 and join Scott at 12-under 276. He hugged his wife before going into the scoring hut, only to see Schwartzel play the 18th without any drama.
“I couldn’t do anymore than what I just did today,” Day said. “Charl played even better golf.”