Charl Schwartzel won the Masters by two strokes over Adam Scott and Jason Day after a wild final day at Augusta National.
Eight players held at least a share of the lead Sunday, but it was the 26-year-old South African who turned in one of the great finishing performances in major championship history.
Schwartzel closed with four straight birdies, including a 20-footer at the final hole to wrap up a 6-under 66. He finished 14-under 274, enough to deny Australia its first green jacket.
Scott shot a 67 and Day finished with two straight birdies for a 68, leaving both Aussies at 276. This remain the only major tournament never won by a golfer from Down Under.
“It was just such an exciting day,” Schwartzel said. “There were so many roars and the atmosphere out there was just incredible.
Tiger Woods created much of the excitement early on, making four birdies and an eagle before he headed to the back side with a 5-under 31.
But he missed short putts at both the 12th and 15th holes, limping to the finish with a 36. That left Woods in a group at 278 with Geoff Ogilvy and Luke Donald.
Schwartzel becomes the fourth straight first-time major champion, following Martin Kaymer (PGA Championship), countryman Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open). This is the first time the Americans have been without a major title or the Ryder Cup.
Woods gave it a go, but the erratic play that has plagued him during the longest winless streak of his career showed up on the back side.
“It could have been,” he said. “I hit it good all day.”
No one suffered like Rory McIlroy, who entered the day with a four-stroke lead. He ricocheted a shot between two cabins along the 10th hole, took a triple-bogey and never recovered.
McIlroy limped to the finish with an 80, winding up 10 strokes behind Schwartzel.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.