The 19th Hole at the Masters

Leroy Watson Jr.Senior Writer IApril 11, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 11:  A general view of the play at the first green during the third round of the 2009 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2009 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Updated Monday, April 13, 2009, 11:45 p.m. CDT


Sunday saw the heart-stopping conclusion to the 2009 Masters at Augusta National.


It was, quite simply, one of the most remarkable finishes in the long history of golf.


All day long, the momentum shifted like sands in an hour glass. First up was Phil Mickelson, firing an other-worldly six birdies on the way to a front-nine 30, pushing out to 10-under par and applying crushing pressure to the leaders.


A ball in Rae’s Creek broke his momentum.


This almost overshadowed Tiger Woods and his 33 on the front nine. Tiger pushed his name to the forefront with birdies on 13, 14, and 16.


A bogey-bogey finish ruined his charge.


Chad Campbell made a run. Shingo Katayama forged a final of 10-under to keep the leaders honest.


And, of course, Kenny Perry was in the lead all day long, only to falter at the end.


Did anyone ever have the feeling that Angel Cabrera was in control? Not the feeling that he could  win—but would  win?


Probably not until the final putt fell.


Here are some final thoughts from our Bleacher Report panel on this historic Masters.



How, in your view, did Angel Cabrera manage to win this event, when all day it seemed like just about anyone else from the group of Perry, Campbell, Mickelson or Woods was going to find a way to steal it from him?


Nicholas Howson: I think the factor that went in his favor was that he was never the front runner for very long. Those dropped shots at 4 and 5 were probably the best thing that happened to him. He could see Perry hadn’t brought his putter with him all day, so he knew dropping shots wasn’t the be all or end all. He kept in the touch and waited for the mistakes, and they eventually came.


Joe MacDonald: Cabrera showed the same perseverance and strength of will he showed when he won the 2007 U.S. Open.  He doesn’t seem to be affected by bad shots and he hit some really ugly ones on Sunday.


Jonathan Staub: Cabrera had a very up and down round, getting to 12-under early, then falling as far back as nine-under before recording birdies on 13, 15 and 16. Modeling the theory of great playoff teams in any sport, Cabrera got hot at the right time. He really picked up his game in the last six holes and really seemed to have fate on his side. Perry got cold at the wrong time. I think the long rest between Campbell’s finish and teeing off in the playoff again got to him. After Cabrera got stuck behind that tree on the first playoff hole, I thought he was done. When he managed to get up and down for par, I said to myself that there was nothing that would prevent him from winning this tourney.



Was there any reason besides nerves that bogged down Kenny Perry? He looked like a classic case of, "Man, this is Sunday at the Masters and I’m leading!’"


NH: He simply didn’t hole a putt all day, apart from that superb birdie on thirteen, probably his most difficult chance. He had great chances on 7 and 8 which he didn’t take, and the eagle chance on 15. It could have been over before they went down to the last, and it should  have been over. So I think poor putting from Perry all day cost him. Was it nerves? Maybe.


JM: Nerves and the memory of the '96 PGA Championship hurt Perry. The last couple of holes and the playoff were eerily reminiscent of his performance when he handed the PGA title that year to Mark Brooks.


JS: It is really hard to pinpoint what happened to Perry. Other than nerves I don’t think there really was that much that went wrong. Like Tiger, Perry was a couple inches away from running away with this thing. He was close all day, but on the 18th his par putt to win came up an inch short, and his chip shot on the first playoff hole came within inches of falling in. In the end I really think that the pressure of the situation got to him and he deviated from his game.



Did you ever feel that Mickelson was going to win?


NH: Always thought a play-off was a possibility for Phil, but not to win it outright, no. He had just left himself too much to do on the final day. Like Tiger, he was chasing it and in the end they both came up short.


JM: I definitely thought Phil had a chance when he birdied 8 to get to 10-under with the back nine left to play.  But, unfortunately, Phil’s short putting seems to disappear when he is under pressure, and that happened again on Sunday.


JS: When Mickelson walked up to his four foot eagle putt, I felt that he was going to run away with it if he buried that. It was not to be. I think that Mickelson might have had Tiger on his mind more than the Green Jacket. He missed too many short putts. After he missed that short eagle attempt, I knew he was not going to pose a serious threat again.



Okay, quick hitters to finish up. Jonathan, Shingo Katayama said that he built his entire off-season training regimen around winning the Masters. He almost did it; can you say a few words about his performance?



JS: Talk about gutsy. Katayama finished in the quietest fourth place you will never hear about. In any other year, -10 would have run away with the Masters, he really made a name for himself at this tournament, and played very solid all week. Whether it’s his cowboy hat, tight shirts or his flare, Katayama has a certain charisma about him and I’d look for him to make an impact at the rest of the year's majors.



Excellent observations! Thanks for a solid weekend of coverage. Okay, Joe, this must be devastating to Kenny Perry. Will he ever have as good a chance to win that elusive major championship to his career resume’?


JM: At 48, this might have been his last shot, but he’s still one of the top 10 or 15 players in the world, so who knows? Even if he gets in contention again, you’d have to think that this loss will haunt him. He should have won two majors already (including this one) and he found a way to self-destruct both times.



Very poignant, Joe. Your keen insights have been much appreciated. Nick, how about picking out a single shot on Sunday that was the most impressive?


NH: Chad Campbell's chip in on the third was majestic. One of the few long range shots we saw fall, which to be fair reflected the slow greens all over the course for the final day. The pressure on him was immense, and his quality of shot reflected it. Never mind shot of the day, one of the shots of the tournament!



Hard to argue with that one, Nick! Thank you for some superlative work. And one last question before we go, to whoever is game: Cabrera now has two majors, one U. S. Open and the 2009 Masters. How many more can the wily Argentinean get?


Jon: I’d like to take a shot at that one, Leroy, because Cabrera is an interesting player to critique. He has the power to make an impact at the longer Masters and U. S. Open courses, perhaps even the PGA, but I don’t see his game meshing very well at the British. If Cabrera doesn’t use the momentum from this Masters to score another victory this year at a major, I really don’t see him pulling out another major in his career. With the wealth of young talent coming up, and Tiger starting to round into shape again, it is going to be harder than ever for some of the tour’s older players (Cabrera will be 40 in September) to continue to remain competitive. Cabrera’s game around the green, however, could make him dangerous on any course.



This concludes our 19th Hole coverage of the Masters. Perhaps we will see you again at the U. S. Open, June 15-21 at Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York.