Sunday, 08 April 2001
Whether it constitutes a Grand Slam or not remains a debatable point but one fact not in doubt in relation to Tiger Woods’s historic victory in the 65th Masters tournament, is the 25 year old’s position as the undisputed Number One golfer in the world.

The American carded a final round 68 for a 16 under par total of 272 to finish two shots ahead of David Duval who closed with a 67 while World Number Two Phil Mickelson had to settle for third after his own final round 70.

Hopes of producing a 12th European Tour winner in the past 22 years did not materialise but the challenge was again strong with five European Tour members finishing in the top 15, Bernhard Langer and Ernie Els taking top billing in a tie for sixth on nine under par 279.

The triumph gave Woods the distinction of being the first player in history to hold all four major titles at the same time, having joined Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as the winner of all four overall when he took the Open Championship at St Andrews last July.

Last year Woods also won the US Open at Pebble Beach and the USPGA Championship at Valhalla, leaving him requiring victory at the Augusta National Golf Club to complete the final piece of the jigsaw. He achieved it, but only after a titanic struggle with Duval and Mickelson.

The American trio burst clear of the rest of the field by the turn in the final round and all had realistic claims on the Green Jacket during an enthralling final nine holes.

Duval, who has now finished in the top six of the Masters for the last four years, made the biggest early challenge to Woods, birdieing six holes in a remarkable outward half of 32.

It moved the 29 year old to only one shot behind and, incredibly, when he birdied the par five 15th, he pulled level. But the 16th proved costly for Duval when he overshot the green with his tee shot and failed to make par.

It meant Duval was one shot behind again. He had a chance at the last from eight feet but the ball slid past the hole and left Woods coming down the last with a one shot lead. The World Number One needed only a par to secure the title but he finished in style, rolling in a 12 footer for a closing birdie three.

Mickelson, whose normally reliable putting stroke had been erratic over the three previous days, again had an up and down day on the greens, inconsistency which ultimately cost the 30 year old the Green Jacket.

A poor tee shot and a missed five footer cost Mickelson a shot on the 11th and although he clawed his way back into contention with birdies at the 13th and 15th, a three-putt bogey at the 16th left the left hander with just too much to do over the closing holes.

While the three American giants contested the main prize, European Tour hopes of producing a 12th winner in 22 years faded in the final round, the best finish belonging jointly to Bernhard Langer and Ernie Els who shared sixth place on nine under par 279.

While Els failed to set the heather on fire with a final round 72 Langer, who was still suffering from the remnants of a virus, made a bold attempt to win his third Masters title, rattling in seven birdies in total but the German also dropped four shots and had to settle for a closing 69.

“It was a bit up and down out there but it is that type of golf course and these things happen when you are trying hard to make birdies,” said Langer. “But overall I am pleased with the way I’ve played this week.”

One shot behind on eight under par 280 were Miguel Angel Jiménez and Angel Cabrera, who had featured on the higher echelons of the leaderboard throughout his second visit to Augusta, but who slipped back slightly in the final reckonings with a closing 73.

Other European Tour players to complete four rounds including the 1994 and 1999 Champion José Maria Olazábal (281), Jesper Parnevik (283), Darren Clarke (284), Padraig Harrington (287) and Bob May (293).

Elsewhere, last year’s champion Vijay Singh went into the tournament harbouring high hopes of becoming only the third player in history, after Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo, to successfully defend the Masters title.

Having won twice on The European Tour International Schedule earlier in the season, the Fijian had every right to be confident but, as with the rest of the field, he had to play second fiddle to Woods and he had to settle for a closing 69 for a six under par total of 282.

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