- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - Kenny Perry bogeyed the final two holes of regulation Sunday at the Masters, forcing a three-way playoff with Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera.

With Campbell watching from the clubhouse, the 48-year-old Perry was poised to become the oldest major champion in golf history until he missed a 15-footer to save par at No. 18. Cabrera then sank a short par putt, leaving all three players tied at 12-under 276.

It was the first three-way playoff at Augusta National since 1987, when Larry Mize beat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros with a chip-in from 140 feet.

The playoff took center stage after a thrilling duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson ended with a thud.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ A supercharged duel between the world’s two best players ended with a thud Sunday at the Masters, leaving someone else to claim the green jacket.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson fell apart down the stretch as 48-year-old Kenny Perry tried to become the oldest major champion in golf history. Chad Campbell challenged for his first major title and Angel Cabrera was the only other player who had a chance.

Perry was in control after a tap-in birdie at 16th, going to the final two holes with a two-stroke lead over Campbell and Cabrera.

All Woods and Mickelson could do was bemoan the shots that got away.

Mickelson dunked his ball into Rae’s Creek and missed two short putts, settling for a 5-under 67 that could have been so much better. Woods bogeyed the last two holes, finishing with a 68 that wasn’t good enough.

Mickelson finished at 9-under 279, his only consolation that he beat Woods by a stroke.

“It was fun,” Mickelson said. “We’ve had some good matches in the past. I’ve usually been on the wrong end of it. It’s fun playing with him. I’ve always enjoyed it.”

Perry started the day tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera at 11-under 205, and the steady Kentuckian stayed on top with a run of pars _ 11 in a row to start his round before he made his first birdie at the famous 12th hole.

But no matter who won, this final round will long be remembered for the showdown between Woods and Mickelson, playing together in the final round of a major for only the third time.

Mickelson had the place in an uproar when he shot a 6-under 30 on the front side, tying a Masters record. It was like the Augusta of old, when the roars reverberated through the Georgia pines as everyone from Gary Player to Jack Nicklaus pulled off dramatic comebacks.

“It was a fun front nine,” Lefty said. “I thought there were some pins I could get to.”

In the end, he’ll remember this one for the blunders, most notably the one in Amen Corner at the devilish little 12th hole known as “Golden Bell.”

Mickelson punched at a 9-iron, but the ball spun back into Rae’s Creek and he wound up taking double bogey. He still had a chance to be only the third player to win after hitting one in the water on Sunday _ until he missed a 4-footer for eagle at No. 15 and a 5-foot birdie try at 17. An errant drive at 18 leading to a bogey was academic.

Woods was bemoaning his own miscues. After climbing with a shot of the lead heading to 17, he unleashed two errant drives. The first led to a bogey, essentially ruining any hopes of winning.

“I was pretty much dead from there,” Woods said.

He teed off into the trees at 18, and wound up deeper in the woods when his next shot caught a trunk and shot straight right. He still had a chance to save par _ and tie Mickelson _ but his putt slid by the cup.

The atmosphere on a warm, sunny day was electric, the roars returning to Augusta after some lackluster finishes in recent years. The course was there for the taking, with accessible pins and greens that were still a bit soft after storms swept through Augusta after the second round. The scores reflected it, with plenty of numbers in the red, led by John Merrick with a 66.

Mickelson, playing with Woods in front of a gallery that was 10-deep in places, provided many of the thrills with his dazzling play on the front side.

Lefty pulled off a brilliant hook around the trees for a tap-in birdie at No. 7, his best shot of many, and his par at the ninth was nearly as good. He drove deep into the pines right of the fairway, and his escape wound up in the deep bunker fronting the left side of the green. He blasted out to about 5 feet above the flag and sank the slippery putt for a brilliant 4.

His front-side 30 tied the mark set by Johnny Miller in 1975 and equaled by Greg Norman in 1988 and K.J. Choi in 2004.

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