The roars from the final round of The 75th Masters in Augusta, Georgia heralded a long overdue rebirth of energy, enthusiasm, and renewed level of interest in professional golf not seen since the beginning of Tiger Woods' precipitous fall from grace that began 18 months ago. In a tournament whose final round represented a flurry of fury of effort from both recognized and unfamiliar names to casual and hardcore fans alike, the tradition of excellence was uninterrupted, even if a comeback in particular left you feeling as incomplete as the spelling of the eventual champion's first name.
Charl Schwartzel slipped on the green jacket for the first time as he reigned in the first Major of his career. Despite a revolving door of would-be competitors threatening to take the lead, for only the second time in 21 years the eventual champion would not come from the day's final pairing of McIlroy and Cabrera. McIlroy, at just 21, was heading into Sunday after his improbable lead of the entire tournament. He faltered as many predicted would absolutely happen, and finished with a score of 80 to leave him tied for 15th. Despite having played the first three days at -12, his final day effort of +8 left the door wide open for players who still had good golf left in them for Sunday.
And come to play they did! Not since Alfred Hitchcock tapped Tippy Hedren have you seen so many birdies! But it was the two that eluded Tiger Woods on the back 9 that prevented his triumphant return to the top of the golf world. Despite coming from -5 to finish at 10 under for the tournament with a final day score of 67, it was Schwartzel's tournament record first ever 4 birdies on the final four holes to put him at 14 under to secure the victory ahead of the steady Scott and Day who tied for second at -12.
As unlikely as Rori McIlroy continuing to hold court among the sport's lords was the expectation that Tiger would have what it took to mount a successful charge. But Tiger's failure was not based on playing or putting poorly, but instead because of leaving a couple literally on the lip of the cup. Despite finishing 4th, this signals the end of the Tiger-less era of golf, and the only temporarily returned status as immortal and bullet-proof Jack Nicklaus' record 18 career majors.
And for the first time in a year and a half, golf is interesting again. From this corner, "Amen!"