We came within one hole of having one of the most unfortunate Masters in years. Decades, maybe.
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The 72nd hole (and 73rd and 74th) on Sunday saved us from weeks and weeks of talk about how the 2013 Masters was tainted by Tiger Woods' two-stroke penalty from Friday afternoon (are we still calling this DropGate? TigerGate? PinGate?).
The Masters is golf's grandest event, the purest of its four major championships. So it was perfect that Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera played three of the purest holes that you'll ever see to end the tournament.
It was beautiful theater, and it started with a bomb on No. 18 from Scott to take the one-shot lead on Cabrera. There was never a doubt on his putt, either -- it never left the cup.
And, in a chilling moment after the putt went in (not just because of the cold rain), Scott turned to the crowd and screamed "COME ON, AUSSIES!" before destroying caddie Steve Williams' right hand with a high-five.
Cabrera followed that up with an incredible iron shot just four feet from the pin. He knocked it in for birdie and a playoff.
The two played No. 18 to par, but Scott birdied No. 10 on the second playoff hole for the win and let loose a crushing yell that rivaled his one on No. 18.
It made everyone forget that they could have been watching Woods in a playoff if not for that silly pin on No. 15.
Woods finished just four shots back. If not for a perfectly struck ball by him -- if it was just one inch to the right or to the left -- that hit the pin on No. 15 on Friday, he would have likely birdied or parred the hole and could have easily found himself in the playoff with Cabrera and Scott.
But that's golf. Inches either way can turn majors.
So, thank you to Scott and Cabrera for playing such a classic last three holes and reminding us that this tournament isn't about who loses but about who grabs the experience and basks in it.
It's about who comes up big on Sunday afternoon.
On a day that lacked drama for much of the round, we were reminded, as we always are, that the Masters doesn't start until the final two pairings reach the 72nd hole on Sunday.
Or is it the second nine on Sunday?
Either way, thanks for overshadowing Tiger.
Here are our final grades for the 2013 Masters.
|A||For Adam Scott to come back after he thought he'd won the Masters in regulation and defeat Angel Cabrera in the playoff was what champions are made of. Well done, Aussies.|
|A||Jason Day had a real shot, but a bogey at No. 17 undid him. To go out on Sunday and shoot a 70 after going bogey-bogey on his last two holes on Saturday was fantastic, though. He'll win a jacket at some point.|
|A||You guys all know the |
|A||Angel Cabrera was cold-blooded in his last three holes on Sunday. The iron that he stuck on the 72nd hole was just ridiculous. No shame in losing the way he did. None at all.|
|B||Brandt Snedeker played so beautifully all week, so it was a bit of a surprise when he went out on Sunday and shot 75, especially after how confident he sounded on Saturday night. The three-putt on No. 10 really began Snedeker's downward spiral. Has to be painful for him to watch another green jacket slip away.|
|B||It was there for the taking on the second nine for Tiger Woods, but he didn't have it in him on Sunday. Still pretty incredible that he had his seventh top five in his last nine trips to the Masters.|
|B||After a 78 on Thursday, |
|C||I expected more out of Keegan Bradley this week. I expected more of what he gave us on Sunday. Bradley followed up his 82 on Saturday with a nice 69 in the final round. He'll win another major in his career.|
|D||Rory McIlroy has never really played well at Augusta, and this week was no different. He has had a round of 77 or worse in four of his five times at the Masters.|
|D||Bubba Watson was never going to miss the cut, but a 10 on No. 12 on Sunday kept him from a top-20 finish. Most memorable thing he did all week was cry while talking about the green jacket at his pre-tournament press conference.|
I don't generally hand out "Fs" unless you miss the cut, but Phil Mickelson was really testing me this week. His worst finish here since he missed the cut in 1997.