Argentinean Angel Cabrera overcame two shots into the woods on the first playoff hole at the Masters, winning with a par on the second hole with a tap in to defeat hard luck sentimental favorite Kenny Perry as he strove to become the oldest winner of a major championship.
Cabrera put his first shot on the initial playoff hole into the right woods, with a large pine tree blocking his sight to the green. On his second shot, he hit another tree, but the ball luckily bounced back into the fairway. He then hit an unlikely approach shot to within six feet, and the dropped the putt to extend the match after Perry had parred. Chad Campbell, the third member of the playoff group at twelve under, missed his four foot par attempt to end his bid for his first major.
Perry tugged his approach shot far left on the second playoff hole, number 10, and then airmailed his chip shot 25 feet past the hole. Which left a simple two-putt for Cabrera to claim the first Masters ever won by someone from South America, and his second Major, following his 2007 U.S. Open victory.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson put on an early show on the final round, and while watching the CBS coverage, you might have been forgiven if you had thought those two were in the lead. As it was, both started seven strokes back of the leaders at four under. But both former champions caught fire on the front nine, especially Mickelson, who tied a Masters record going out in 30. Mickelson twice came within one stroke of the lead, but faltered each time. The first came when Phil reverted back to the "Phil the Thrill" moniker, and tried a tricky three-quarters nine iron at the difficult 12th hole. He misplayed it badly, and it ended up in Rae's Creek, costing Phil a double bogey.
Mickelson fought back once again to within one, but missed two short putts at 15 and 17, and then bogeyed 18 to end up at nine under, three strokes off the eventual top scores.
Woods continued the putting frustration he had endured all weekend, up until he drained a long eagle putt on 8. He played well to start out the back nine, birdying 13, 15, and 16 to ignite the crowd by pulling within one of the leaders. And then disaster struck, and Tiger bogeyed 17 and 18 to fall to eight under, tied for sixth place.
Woods fate on the final two holes would be repeated 45 minutes later. Perry had played unspectacular, but rock steady, for the entire round. 11 straight pars were made by the Kentuckian, which kept him at the top. He then went on his own run with birdies on the 12th, the hardest hole on the course, and the 15th, the easiest. His victory seemed certain when he launched an eight iron on the par 3 16th to within a foot of the cup, and a two stroke lead going into the final two holes. Alas, he could not seize the moment, hitting mediocre shots in bogeying 17 and 18 and opening the door for Campbell and Cabrera.
Woods and Mickelson, playing together to the delight of the huge gallery, fared much better than any of the other big named contenders. Foremost of this group was Padraig Harrington, working on what was (obnoxiously) being called "the Paddy Slam", trying for his third straight major. He was still in contention at the start of Saturday's round, but immediately fell out with a disastrous quadruple bogey nine on the second hole, ending his run.
Jim Furyk started out Sunday closest to the leaders, but shot a one-over 73, and never threatened. Nor did Anthony Kim, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker, Tim Clark, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sean O'Hair and Hunter Mahan, all who entered Sunday within striking distance, but unable to mount a charge.
Cabrera himself looked to be fading early in the round. After getting a birdie on the third hole to take a one stroke lead, he bogeyed the next two holes to drop to ten under. Another bogey on ten, combined with Perry's birdie on 12, and it looked like he was out of it. But by playing the final eight holes in three under, Cabrera held on to his chances, and took advantage of them in the 74th hole.
The game of golf is a fickle and quirky thing. An inch or two here or there can cost you up to three or four strokes on a hole. This was demonstrated in blaring detail on the 73rd hole. Cabrera's ball hits the tree two more inches to the right, and it fires straight backwards, ending his run. As it was, he got the lucky bounce back into the fairway, and was able to take make the most of it, finally ending up in Butler Cabin to slip on the most prized piece of clothing in all of golf, the Green Jacket.