The 83rd Masters Tournament will always be remembered as Tiger Woods’ comeback, but the story could have been so different with five players tied for the lead at one point on the back nine on Sunday.
Woods was well aware how finely balanced the final day was. “There were so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine.
“There were so many guys that had a chance to win. The leaderboard was absolutely packed and everyone was playing well. You couldn't have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I'm balding!”
Among the challengers were European Tour members Xander Schauffele, who finished in a tie for second with Dustin Johnson and the reigning US Open and US PGA Champion Brooks Keopka, while Tony Finau and Francesco Molinari were a further shot back alongside Jason Day and Webb Simpson.
Schauffle, playing only his second Masters, stepped up a gear around Amen Corner and briefly held the lead on his own when he birdied the 13th, but ultimately couldn’t find any more gains over the closing holes.
“It was an awesome experience, first off,” he said. “It's hard to really feel bad about how I played, because I just witnessed history. It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Amen Corner, 15, 16, Tiger making the roars.
I just witnessed history - Xander Schauffele
“I was trying to push myself, but I feel like I got a very full Masters experience here in my second year.
“I did have my 30 seconds in the sun with the lead and it was a really cool feeling, and it just proves to my team and I that we can contend and that we can win on this property.”
Molinari looked totally in control throughout the week in his bid to become only the fifth reigning Open Champion to win the Masters, but a double bogey on the 12th when he found Rae’s Creek short of the green and then a second double on the 15th, again finding water, ended his hopes of a second Major title.
“It was just a bad execution (on 12),” said Molinari. “We picked the right shot and just didn't hit it hard enough, simple as that.
“Probably one bad swing and one bad decision - on 15 - trying to go for the flag from the left side. We'll never know, if it doesn't clip the branch, but I should have gone for the middle of the green and try to make something happen on the last three holes.”
And Tony Finau is clearly loving Augusta National after following his tied tenth finish on his debut last year with a top five this year, although his hopes also sunk in Rae’s Creek on the 12th.
“For me it was fun being a part of the action,” said Finau. “And it's a lot of fun to be in that type of atmosphere. It's what I practice for, what I play for, what I train for. My time is coming. I know it is. And I've just got to keep riding the storm.”
His young son was with him this week and when asked what he would tell him when he was old enough, replied: “I'll tell him I was there when Tiger won his 15th major in the final group.
“You can't say enough about Tiger and what he's done for the game. It's great for him to be involved in the game and now he's got his 15th major.”