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Biggest Surprises of 2013 Masters

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2013

Biggest Surprises of 2013 Masters

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    The Masters is big on nostalgia and history, but it never fails to create new surprises.

    The expectations, of course, are for the great players to come through with sensational efforts, but it doesn't always work out that way.

    The 2013 Masters came down to a playoff for the second straight year, and Adam Scott outlasted Angel Cabrera on the second extra hole to become the first Australian winner in the 77-year history of the event.

    Surprisingly, Scott used his shaky putter to strike the decisive blows. He made a long birdie putt on the 18th to give him a one-stroke lead with Cabrera still to follow.

    After Cabrera matched the birdie, Scott used his putter on the 10th hole to strike the decisive birdie.

    Here's a look at the most surprising moments—good and bad—in the 2013 Masters.

9. Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Only the most avid golf fans had heard of Thorbjorn "Thunder Bear" Olesen before. However, the 23-year-old Dane announced his presence in a big way to the rest of the world at Augusta.

    After struggling through the first round with a 78, Olesen played as well as nearly anyone in the field. He closed with 70-68-68 to finished in a tie for sixth at 284 with Brandt Snedeker.

    Olesen could become one of the great international stars of the game with his ball-striking and superb touch around the green.

8. Phil Mickelson Struggles Badly

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    If it wasn't going to be Tiger Woods' tournament, Phil Mickelson was supposed to have as good a chance as any in the field.

    Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner, had a victory on the tour this year, and there's no place he loves more than Augusta National.

    There was no guarantee that Mickelson would contend or win, but it seemed like it would be one go-for-broke shot that would make or break Mickelson.

    That was not the case this time around. Mickelson did not look like one of the world's best and struggled from start to finish.

    After an opening round of 71, Mickelson simply fell apart and shot a nine-over 297.

7. Struggling Finish for Jason Day

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    When it comes to consistent golf, it's hard to complain about Jason Day's performance.

    Day played well in all four rounds, but he had a couple of lapses at the end of the third and fourth rounds that cost him dearly.

    Day bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes in the third round to take him out of the lead after 54 holes.

    However, he started the final round impressively with a birdie on the first hole and an eagle on the second.

    He continued to play with momentum throughout the rest of the round until consecutive bogeys on the 16th and 17th. When he could not birdie the 18th, he was one stroke behind Scott and Cabrera and out of contention.

    No golfer was more consistent, but the 25-year-old Day finished in third.

6. Rory McIlroy Plays Himself Out in 3rd Round

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    Rory McIlroy was in fine position at the midway point of the tournament, at two-under par and just four strokes back of the leaders.

    His second-round score of 70 showed all of his talents. He was driving the ball with power, sticking his irons with confidence, and his putting was solid.

    The former world No. 1 was on his way again—he was going to make his move on moving day.

    He certainly did...except he moved in the wrong direction. Everything that could go wrong for McIlroy did. He shot a very un-Rory-like 79, and he was out of contention.

    It didn't matter that he shot a 69 in the final round. McIlroy shot a 290 and was never a factor on the weekend.

5. Tiger Woods' Turning Point

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    Tiger Woods was the favorite going into the Masters. He had already won three tournaments in 2013 and he had regained the top ranking in the world.

    Woods was tied for the lead in the second round when he came to the 15th hole. He stuck his approach shot so well that it hit the flag. However, instead of dying near the hole, it rebounded off the flag and into the water hazard.

    Woods opted to hit the ball from where he originally hit it and was able to get down in two. However, Woods actually dropped the ball two yards back from his original location and a television viewer called it into the golf officials.

    While Masters officials originally said Woods had played the ball correctly, they revisited the ruling when Woods told interviewers that he had "gone back two yards" before striking the ball.

    Golf officials decided to hit Woods with a two-stroke penalty. That ruling was controversial, since some thought Woods should be disqualified for violating the rules.

    Woods ended up with a 73 in the second round, and a 70 in the third round left him four strokes behind the leaders.

    He played well on Sunday, but he was never able to contend for the title and finished tied in fourth.

4. Brandt Snedeker Misses His Opportunity

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    Brandt Snedeker came into the final round tied with Angel Cabrera for the lead.

    Many expected him to walk away with the green jacket, as it appeared he had really found his groove at Augusta.

    However, Snedeker fell apart when it mattered most. He bogeyed back-to-back holes on 10 and 11, and he never got back into it.

    Snedeker looked shaken after those two bogeys and shot a disappointing 75 in the final round for the T6 finish.

3. China's 14-Year-Old Phenom Tianlang Guan

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    The youngest competitor in the history of the Masters became a golf sensation.

    Tianlang Guan, a 14-year-old from China, earned his spot in the Masters with a victory in a key amateur tournament in Asia.

    He made his first appearance at Augusta a memorable one. Guan shot a remarkable one-over 73 in the first round and then became the lone amateur to make the cut when he shot a 75 on Day 2.

    Guan was hit with a one-stroke penalty in the second round for slow play on the 17th hole. At the time, it looked like the penalty might impact his ability to survive the cut, but he finished within 10 strokes of the leaders and earned his right to keep playing.

    While Guan closed with a 77 and 75 and finished at 12 over with an even 300, he proved to be a mature youngster with a refined game.

    If Guan can continue to develop his game, he should have many more Masters appearances in his future.

2. Angel Cabrera Forces a Playoff

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    Two bogeys on the back nine appeared to set Cabrera back. He had a chance to seize control of the tournament, but he gave it back.

    While he had an excellent attitude throughout the round, it had to be disheartening to see Adam Scott roll in a long birdie putt on the 18th to seize the lead with the rain pouring down on his face.

    Cabrera did not let Scott's moment distract him, however. He hit a perfect approach shot on 18 and got to within two-plus feet of the hole. It was one of the most pressure-packed approach shots in Masters history, and Cabrera nailed it.

    He rolled in the short putt and sent the Masters into its memorable playoff.

1. Championship Performance for Adam Scott

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    It's hard to win a major championship when you struggle with your putter, as Adam Scott did until he got to the final hole on Sunday.

    Scott hit the ball as well as anyone in the Masters. He drove his tee shots long and straight, and he stuck his approach shots.

    But that was not enough, because he could not hit a putt all day. The 32-year-old Australian made birdies in the final round, but they were short putts that would have been disastrous if missed.

    He did not miss his putts badly—they were all close. A bit left, a bit right or a bit short. Most golfers would have been thoroughly discouraged by the 72nd hole. Scott, however, put those putting problems out of his mind and he rolled in a 25-footer for the lead.

    When Cabrera forced a playoff with his own magic, Scott won it by hitting a long birdie putt on the second playoff hole.

    Scott came through despite the pressure and became the first Australian golfer to bring home the green jacket and Masters title.

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