AUGUSTA, Ga. - Angel Cabrera may have won the Masters, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson nearly stole the show.
The finish of the Masters turned out to be a little anticlimactic, as Kenny Perry bogeyed the final two holes to force a three-man playoff.
In the playoff, there were no spectacular shots or tournament-winning birdies, just survival by Cabrera.
But early on in the day, there was plenty of stunning shots and great dramatic theater.
I've heard about the excitement of a player making a run on Sunday afternoon at the Masters.
This year, I got to experience it first hand.
I couldn't resist - I had to watch the super-group of Woods and Mickelson tee off Sunday.
I had been following teen sensation Rory McIlroy in the early afternoon, but made it over to the No. 1 tee box in time to see the world's top two players start their rounds.
After watching their tee shots (Tiger blasted his way left and Phil way right) I followed McIlroy onto the back 9.
I trailed McIlroy all the way to No. 13, before noticing that Mickelson was off to a hot start.
I raced through the back 9 and got to No. 16 just as Mickelson and Woods arrived at the nearby No. 6.
Mickelson made birdie on the hole, giving him four birdies in the first six holes. Despite driving it into the rough on No. 7, Mickelson stuck his approach to within a few feet and made another birdie on that hole. Just
before Phil tapped in his birdie, Tiger lipped out a long birdie putt, eliciting another big reaction from the crowd.
The place was going nuts. As Phil and Tiger hit the No. 8 tee box, all you could hear was a low buzz. No one was yelling, but everyone was talking excitedly in their golf course voices. It was electric.
Phil birdied the par 5 No. 8 hole to get to 10 under and Tiger joined the fray, rolling in an eagle to move to 7 under.
I honestly thought I was part of Arnie's Army back in the 1950s as I joined thousands of excited patrons charging down the side of the No. 9 fairway.
Despite a terrible tee shot on No. 9, Mickelson saved par and made the turn after posting a spellbinding 6-under par 30 on the front side, tying the course record with three others. Only Greg Norman in 1988 had done it in the final round of the Masters before Phil.
Mickelson's round got stalled on Amen Corner. Mickelson took dead aim at the pin on No. 12, but his tee shot found the water to the right and he took a double bogey.
Most people would say, "Why not just hit it on the middle of the green, take a par and try to make birdie on the next hole (which was the second-easiest hole on the course this weekend)?"
I can't disagree.
But shooting for the middle of the green from 155 yards away didn't get him six birdies on the front side.
You can certainly argue with Mickelson's logic, but at least he's consistent.
Mickelson had chances to go even lower on the back 9. After making birdie on No. 13, Phil lipped out a birdie putt on No. 14. He had a great opportunity for eagle on No. 15, but settled for birdie after missing a short putt. Tiger birdied both 13 and 15 as well and when Tiger made birdie on No.16, both players were at 10 under.
At that point, Kenny Perry was the leader at just 11 under.
Mickelson had an excellent chance to get to 11 under on No. 17, but his birdie putt couldn't find the bottom of the cup.
I got a first-hand look at the shot that halted Tiger's run. He hit his drive to the left on No. 17. I pulled up in the front row at the ropes just a minute before his ball rolled to within two feet of where I was standing.
I thought I was going to make it on the CBS broadcast. He basically had to settle for a glorified punch-out and ended up making bogey.
Both players stumbled down the stretch and bogeyed No. 18.
It wasn't quite a run to a green jacket, but considering the competitors and the circumstances, it was quite a run.
(Chris Bieri is a sportswriter for the Minot Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)