Jason Day came up two shots shy of sudden death and ended up solo third at the Masters.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Quite simply, the pressure got to Jason Day.
No way around it.
One minute he’s leading the Masters, two bogeys later, he’s watching countryman Adam Scott head into a playoff with Angel Cabrera and eventually become the first Australian to win the Masters.
Day was pulling for him all the way in the playoff.
“I know that he's come so close so many times in Majors and he really does deserve it," Day said during the sudden death session. “He's worked very, very hard and he's had a great career. Right now I know there's a playoff going on and I'm really praying that he pulls through."
Scott did. And, at the rate Day is going, he might not be too far behind him.
Day, who is making himself at home in majors, birdied the 15th hole to take the sole lead at 9 under, but it simply didn’t last.
The 25-year-old Australian had put himself in position with birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15, but bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to eventually miss the Scott-Cabrera playoff by two shots.
“Birdieing 13, 14 and 15 was really nice, and unfortunately bogeying 16 and 17 was obviously not what I wanted to do," Day said. “You know, it was really tough. Obviously I think pressure got to me a little bit, and unfortunately I bogeyed those."
He said he hit a lot of shots at the back left pin, but at No. 16 he was just a bit off.
“I just rotated the hands a little bit too much and kind of shut it down, and it went a little long," he said. “I was hoping that the putt was going to be a little closer than what it was, and unfortunately I hit a terrible third putt ‑‑ or second putt -- there to bogey the hole."
And No. 17? All he had to do was get over the bunker, but ...
“I hit a great drive and hit a really nice 8‑iron at the pin," he said. “It was dead at it, and it only had to go a couple feet, and it would have been over that bunker and maybe 15, 20 feet and would have had an opportunity to obviously make a birdie there.”
Day now has three top-three finishes at majors. In 2011, he and Scott tied for second at the Masters when Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win the Green Jacket. He also finished second to Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
“I love this tournament regardless of where I finish today," Day said. “It's obviously an honor to come this week and play and play against the best players in the world and obviously have a shot at winning my first major and being the first Australian to win the Masters.
“It's a little disappointing, but there's a lot of experience that I can take into next year and hopefully I can wear one of those Green Jackets soon."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods had reclaimed his No. 1 world ranking. He'd won the last two tournaments he'd played in and a total of three times in just five starts this year.
But the man who came to Augusta National as such an overwhelming favorite wasn't able to get the job done. Woods, who was seeking his fifth Green Jacket and first Masters win since 2005, closed with a 70 on Sunday and came up short at 5 under.
Woods, who was assesssed a two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop at the 15th hole in the second round before he teed of on Saturday, couldn't get off to the kind of start he needed to force the issue. He started the final round four strokes off the pace.
But Woods went out in a disappointing 37 on Sunday. He gave his fans a glimmer of hope with a birdies at No. 10 and both par 5s on the back nine before closing with a trio of pars as the leaders pressed onward.
"I had a hard time getting accustomed to the speed," Woods said after his round. "It was so much slower than yesterday -- and that was before it rained. I had a hard time hitting putts hard enough."
Woods, who hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, was pleased with his performance overall, though.
"I played well," said the 14-time major champion. "Unforunately I didn't make enough putts and I missed a few shots here and there. I thought if I shot 65 I would have won it outright and it turns out that might have been the number."
Thorbjorn Olesen shot a pair of 68s on the weekend to tie for sixth at his first Masters.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.com Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Thorbjorn Olesen.
It’s an unforgettable name, but you’re not alone if you can’t place the face. Even after this week.
The 23-year-old Dane played his final three rounds at Augusta National in 10 under to back-door his second top-10 in three majors. Olesen closed with his second consecutive 68 to finish his first Masters at 4 under.
“I feel like I played some great golf all four days, actually," he said. "I shaped the ball really nicely, left to right and right to left and on the last two days I started holing a few putts."
The finish caught everyone’s attention, especially after his tie for ninth at last year’s British Open.
“It's a dream for me," he said. “It's a dream for me. It's lovely to be here at a major and especially at the Masters. It's a great golf course and the atmosphere here is amazing.’’
Olesen’s game was amazing the last three days. After opening with a 78, he added rounds of 70-68-68. It’s especially impressive considering he had to withdraw from the Shell Houston Open two weeks ago following a car accident.
“It’s definitely not the best preparation for this week," said Olesen who finished seventh at the Arnold Paler Invitational presented by MasterCard. “But I felt like before the accident that I played some great golf the whole year in Europe and in the Middle East.
“So I came into this week with a lot of confidence, but I knew that it was going to be tough with the last week that I had. But it turned out to be very good after the first day."
The accident – someone rear-ended a car a few cars in front of him and he had no chance to stop – left him with a stiff neck.
“It doesn't do anything to my swing," Olesen said. “It's just after a long day it's irritating me and starts getting stiff. But it's nothing to do with the swing."
Olesen has only won once on the European Tour, but has piled up top-10s, which got him into the top 50 in the world and into the Masters. To prep for his first appearance at Augusta National, he played with his father.
“I was a little bit intimidated by the greens, but after the first time playing a few practice rounds and flighting the shots, I got more confident," he said. “But it was nice to get past the first day, past the 78. Luckily I forgot it and got to the weekend and shot some good scores.”
So remember the name. After two top-10s in the last three majors, the 23-year-old seems like he just might be here to stay.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Halfway through the back nine and we finally have a lead change at the Masters Tournament.
Jason Day surged to the top of the leaderboard with consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14. At the same time Day made his second birdie putt to tie for the lead at 8 under, Angel Cabrera was putting his second shot from the pinestraw into Rae's Creek at the preceeding par 5.
Cabrera took his drop and hit his fourth shot a little heavy, the ball stopping 20 feet from the hole. He missed the par putt and dropped back to 7 under so Day leads alone.
Adam Scott is tied with Cabrera after a birdie at the par-5 13th one group ahead of the Argentine. Marc Leishman, who, like Day and Scott is ttrying to break the Aussie jinx at the Masters, is two strokes behind through 14 holes.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods has used birdies on the two back nine par 5s to pull within three strokes with three holes remaining in his round.
Fred Couples en route to a closing 1-under 71 on Sunday (Redington/Getty Images)
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. – For Fred Couples, it was one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda weeks.
Two steps forward, three back. Opening 68, third-round 77. A closing birdie -- with the requisite Freddie roar -- on the 72nd hole.
Line up his scorecards for four days and it’s a collage of circles (birdies), squares (bogeys), double squares (double and triple bogeys).
Take away that 77, and the 1992 Masters champ would have been in Sunday's mix for another Green Jacket. Instead, the man who is the essence of cool had to settle for a couple of big putts, a closing 71 and, just maybe at the end of the day, another top 10.
"I played well today," Couples said. "I really didn't do much. I birdied 15 and 18 to get to 1‑under.
"I played with Jason (Dufner), we didn't make any putts and we were both right around the hole. But I had a good time. He's a great player and I played last year Saturday and Sunday with him and it's the same thing as last year, I played terrible on Saturday and then yesterday the finish was, I just told him there, I don't know if I've ever really finished like that in a tournament in my life, the way some of these shots I hit. I couldn't even chip balls out of the trees with any feel.
"But it is what it is and I was not in a great mood yesterday, because if I just would have finished halfway, I could have come out today with a shot at winning. And today was just really another fun day at Augusta."
Couples is a staple here. Even his so-so weeks seemed to be filled with a bit of excitement. Take this week. He opened with a 68 and had everyone wondering -- once again -- could Freddie, at 53, be a factor? After all, the previous three years, he has finished sixth, T-15 and T-12.
"Well, I can play the course," Couples said. "So even yesterday wasn't great, I bogeyed 14 with a wedge, I laid up on 16 and I couldn't even roll it under the trees. I bogeyed there and made a 7 there. If I just do what's normal for everybody, maybe I play those holes 2‑over and I'm 3‑under instead of even par. But it didn't happen that way. ...
"I know how to play the course. I just played for about 40 minutes like a 7 handicap."
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- We've played 63 holes now and the 77th Masters has finally begun.
Angel Cabrera takes a two-stroke lead over his playing partner, Brandt Snedeker, as the two men head to the career-defining back nine at Augusta National. Cabrera, who won the 2009 Masters, is 9 under and has yet to make a bogey while the American turned in even par after battling back from consecutive bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5.
A first Green Jacket for an Australian is also still in the realm of possibility as Jason Day and Adam Scott made the turn 6 under. Scott played his first nine holes in even par while Day shot 35. Marc Leishman, another from Down Under, is 5 under through 10 holes after shooting even par on the front.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods hasn't been able to get untracker. He shot 1 over on the front nine after making a pair of bogeys and just one birdie. A birdie at the 10th hole, though, returned Woods to the logjam at 3 under that includes Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Matt Kuchar.
Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen is working on the day's best round. He's 5 under for the day -- and the tournament -- after birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15.
McIlroy finished his week at Augusta National 2-over par (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rory McIlroy left Augusta National heading in the right direction, but was no less disappointed with his finish.
"It's frustration," McIlroy said when asked for his feelings after "That's what this golf course is, it's frustrating.
"I know I've played good enough golf here to win it at times, it's just a matter of stringing it all together in one week."
This was not one of those weeks. McIlroy was consistently inconsistent.
After playing his first two rounds in a combined 2 under and moving to within three of the lead early in the third, things went sideways for McIlroy, who played his final 12 holes Saturday in 8 over en route to a 79.
The former world No. 1 was 10 strokes better on Sunday, and the last two times he left here without a Green Jacket he went on to win a major later that summer -- first at the U.S. Open at Congressional, then at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. But there's still some figuring out to do.
"I'll take any," McIlroy joked when asked which major he would win next. "I'm hitting all the shots. It's just a matter of committing to them all the time."
A lack of confidence in his swing since switching equipment in the offseason has been prevailing problem all season for McIlroy.
He missed the cut in his first start of the year, was eliminated in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in his second and walked off the golf course midway through his round in the third.
McIlroy turned a corner with his swing, he said, with a final-round 65 at Doral, but he's been up and down since, tying for 45th in Houston, finishing second in San Antonio and falling out of contention on the weekend here.
His trips down Magnolia Lane have been just as unpredictable with a tie for 20th in 2009, a missed cut in 2010, a tie for 15th in 2011 following a final-round 80 and a tie for 40th last year.
This week, McIlroy had almost as many bogeys -- 12 -- as birdies -- 13.
"I'm learning each and every year around here," McIlroy said. "You just got to be so controlled and not take on too much. It's one of these golf courses where, when it's like this unfortunately like you can shoot 65 in a heart beat, but all of a sudden you go for a few shots and you're staring double and triple bogey in the face."
It hasn't helped that McIlroy is still working out the kinks in his swing.
"My misses have been wide and that's the thing that I need to sort out," McIlroy said. "A perfect example is the 11th (Saturday). Instead of just missing it in the right rough you miss it 20 yards in the trees and you don't have any shot.
"If I can just sort out those misses so they're not quite as wide and they're still in play, then that's what I need to do."
He could also learn from Fred Couples, Angel Cabrera and even Bernhard Langer -- all players who have won a Green Jacket and continue to play well here, no matter their age.
Of course age (i.e. experience) can go a long way around these parts.
"They know where to miss it; even their bad shots are put in the right positions," McIlroy said. "Because they have played it so many times it's sort of second nature to them, and I'm trying to get there."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson was at a loss to explain his performance at the 2013 Masters.
The man who has won three of the last 10 Masters only broke par once at Augusta National this week. And he followed that 71 on Thursday with rounds of 76, 77 and 73 to finish at 9 over.
"I just had an off year," Mickelson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I played poorly. ... This is my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament, and one I look forward to the day after it ends. And to perform like this is disappointing. I'm disappointed in myself because I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game and so forth this week."
The last time Mickelson failed to finish 72 holes in red numbers at the Masters was in 2007 when he shot 11 over and tied for 24th. That also happens to be the last time he didn't play the week before the Masters, as was the case this year when his normal stop, the Shell Houston Open, was moved up in the PGA TOUR schedule.
"I've got to look at that because the things I did this week to get ready I just wasn't as mentally sharp as I need to be, and I've got to find another way to get ready for big events if I'm not able to compete the week before," Mickelson said.
The big left-hander said he and his instructor Butch Harmon may have identified some things to work on during their practice session on Sunday, though. With the Wells Fargo Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship looming back-to-back in two weeks, such clarity couldn't happen a moment too soon.
"I had some technical issues or fundamental issues with my swing, and I've had it the last couple months, but I believe I have the direction now to work on it, so I'll spend some time in two weekends and see if I can get it ironed out for a good run at Charlotte and THE PLAYERS," Mickelson said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Kevin Na has company.
Bubba Watson also recorded a 10 on the par-3 12th hole Sunday at Augusta National.
The defending champion rinsed his tee shot, hit his third from the drop area, and again found the water.
Watson's fifth shot carried into the back bunker before his pitch ran through the green and into the water again. Watson played out sideways from the sand on his eighth shot then got up-and-down for the 10.
The score dropped Watson to 6 over on the day and to 8 over for the week.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Every Masters champ seems to have a shot or a moment on Sunday that is spectacular.
Bubba Watson's hooking wedge out of the Woods on the 10th hole last year; Charl Schwartzel's four straight birdies to close the year before; Phil Mickelson out of the trees and pine straw on the par-5 13th in 2010.
Sunday, Jason Day holed out for eagle on the par-5 second, jarring a bunker shot to a short pin with the ball traveling about the speed of a putt as it gently tumbled in.
The shot moved Day to the top of the leaderboard at 8 under and could become the shot of the tournament should the 25-year-old go on to end Australia's drought here at the Masters.
Day, who tied for second here two years ago, played his first two holes in 3 under, opening with a birdie on the first.
He has company, however, with Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera also at 8 under -- Snedeker after a birdie on the difficult first, Cabrera after one on the second.
Alone in fourth is Adam Scott at 6 under after a birdie on the third. Scott also finished second here two years ago.
As for Tiger Woods, he opened with four straight pars, missing birdie opportunities on three of the holes, before a bogey on the fifth to drop to 2 under.