AUGUSTA, Ga. - The drought looked as if it might be over, but through no fault of the protagonists who were trying their hardest to snap it, it turned out to be a mirage.
While Australians Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy shot final-round 67s Sunday at Augusta National GC, and Jason Day carded a stout 68 in his first Masters, the trio came up tantalizingly short of earning their country's first green jacket. Scott and Day finished T-2 at 12-under 276, Ogilvy T-4 at 10-under 278, all victimized by Charl Schwartzel, who birdied the last four holes to shoot a 66 and finish at 274.
"Nothing I could do about it," said Scott. "I hung in there as long as I could and kind of had a look at [a birdie] on the last, but it wasn't my best effort.
On a day when the leader board was jammed and the course filled with birdie and eagle roars reverberating through the pines, the 23-year-old Day never went away, saving his best for last -- a birdie-birdie finish. "I can't be disappointed with that finish," said Day, who marveled at the exciting mood that permeated the hot, sunny afternoon. "You don't know what's going on and you see a number pop up on the leader board and the crowd is going crazy. It's lived up to everything I expected, and more, which is fantastic."
Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion who started the final round seven back of 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy, had a birdie binge (Nos. 12 through 16) more impressive than Schwartzel's. "Especially since Greg [Norman] was getting close so many times, it became a big deal for Australia, and I promise you there's millions of people awake at this moment watching this," Ogilvy said with the last couple of groups still on the course. "They're pretty excited."
If not for Schwartzel's magical run, they would have been jubilant. "You can't do anything about a guy who birdies the last four holes to win a tournament, especially the Masters," said Day, who, like Scott, received a consoling phone call from Norman, a three-time runner-up at Augusta. "He's very proud of what we did out there and how we played," Day said. "I don't' think there's going to be a drought for long."
(Photo by Getty Images)
-- Bill Fields