What else can I say about Sunday’s final round but — wow. Simply, it was the most jaw-dropping final round I have experience in my six trips here. Hearing the roars, trying to guess who would come out on top, it was amazing. It’s the kind of drama and excitement that makes the Masters the best tournament in the world.
There were so many stories that came out of Sunday’s final 18 holes. There was the dramatic collapse of Rory McIlroy, who started the final round looking like no one would beat him.
There was Adam Scott, who after years of unfulfilled promise finally made his presence felt at a major championship.
There were young phenom Jason Day, hanging tough in his first Masters Sunday and nearly playing his way into a playoff.
And of course, the solid play of Char Scwartzel, the young South African who we all virtually ignored through the first three rounds but whose steady play and precision putting made him the third player from his country to slip on a green jacket.
But of all the stories, none are bigger in my opinion than the reappearance of Tiger Woods. For the first time since the 2008 U.S. Open, Tiger looked like Tiger. He may have lost the Masters by four strokes on Sunday, but he also may have won back a career in the process.
Showing the fire and shot-making that made him the game’s greatest player, Woods clawed his way into contention with a blistering 5-under 31 on Augusta National’s front nine which included the only eagle of the day on the par-5, eighth hole.
While he was unable to maintain the pace over the final nine holes, Woods may have proved to himself and the rest of the world that his best days are indeed still ahead of him.
Paired with Woods on Sunday, Martin Laird had the chance to see the “old” Woods stand up and be counted.
“It was a lot of fun playing with Tiger on Sunday at Augusta when he’s making a charge up the leaderboard,” Laird said, “It doesn’t get much better."
“The crowds were unbelievable. Some call it madness but I wouldn’t. It was a lot of fun. You know his swing, hitting shots — he hit some of the best shots you’ll ever see today.”
Adam Scott, who held the lead with just two holes left to play, admitted he was watching the scoreboard and specifically Woods, when they were playing the front side.
Scott said he was on the tee at the par-3, sixth when a wave of noise rushed down to the bottom section of Augusta National.
“I kind of figured out where Tiger’s position on the course was and just heard roars, and the big one on eight,” Scott said. “A hell of a run from him. You could just tell what’s going on out there. It’s quite unique.”
Geoff Ogilvy, who made a late run of his own on the back nine to get into a group with Woods at 10 under, was playing in the group right behind Woods.
Ogilvy admitted like everyone else at Augusta National late Sunday afternoon, he too enjoyed watching the Tiger show.
“It was quite fun just to listen to the roars of what he was doing on the front nine because usually you get him on the back,” Ogilvy said. “I was an interested spectator. You hear the noises and think wow, he shot 5-under on the front. I wish I had done that kind of thing.”
Woods admitted to feeling like he left a few shots out on the back nine, particularly making par on the par-5, 13th and failing to convert a 4-foot eagle putt on the par-5, 15th.
“I should have shot an easy 3- or 4-under on the back side but I only posted even,” Woods said. “This entire weekend I hit it good. So that was a nice feeling.”
Asked if there was any one shot that gave him particular satisfaction during the day, he smiled and said there were a lot of them. He said his second shot on 15, a 6-iron from 207 yards, was pretty special, landing soft and coming to rest four feet from the pin.
Having already finished his round as Woods was beginning to make his charge, Justin Rose was able to sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
“The crowd getting behind that (Woods’ run), that was awesome,” Rose said. “Playing today was Augusta Sunday, you heard the roars and you knew exactly who it was and what hole it was, and what type of cheer. It was a classic Augusta Sunday.”
Amen to that.