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Mickelson, Tiger battle, but Cabrera wins Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – This is the way it is supposed to be . . .

We stand at No. 18 on Sunday at the Masters. You hear thunder on the horizon, but no clouds in the sky. The roars of Augusta. Something special is happening.

Somewhere out there, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have lit a bonfire at the Masters, playing together, clawing up the leader board together . . . Mickelson is blowing through the front side with six birdies and only 30 strokes, Woods with a 33. The gap they face is closing by the minute, from seven strokes to four to one.

You can feel their momentum, see it, hear it.

Then they blink.

The cheers for the giants suddenly turn to gasps, when Woods bogeys the last two holes, turning into the un-Tiger. And groans when Mickelson hits into the water on No. 12, then misses a short eagle putt on No. 15, a short birdie putt on No. 17. Suddenly, he can’t read a putt.

“We were both more concerned about trying to make birdies to catch the leaders than what each other was doing,” Mickelson says later.

“I fought my swing all day, and just kind of Band-Aided around, and almost won the tournament with a Band-Aid swing,” Woods says later.

In the end, the roars would be for someone else.

This is the way it is supposed to be . . .

Before someone wins a memorable Masters, usually someone else has to lose it.

CBS is so enraptured with the Mickelson-Woods drama, you sometimes wonder if leader Kenny Perry has been kidnapped. But no, there he is every so often. Same facial expression. Calm amidst a Sunday storm.

He loses the lead but takes it back with a birdie on No. 15, then hits a shot to within a foot and birdies No. 16. Two strokes ahead with three holes to go.

Get the green jacket ready. He has had two bogeys in 54 holes. At 48, he is about to become the oldest winner of a major ever.

Then he bogeys No. 17 . . . and No. 18, just short on a 15-foot putt to win . . . and the second hole of the playoff.

“I’m not going to feel sorry,” he says later. “If this is the worst thing that happens to me, I can live with it.”

He mentions a 3-putt on No. 13 that cost him a birdie. He mentions how when he gets nervous, his right hand “wants to shoot a little bit, and I can’t calm it down.”

He mentions the putt on No. 18 to win that was barely meek enough to cost him history.

“I’ve seen so many people make that putt,” he says, disappointed he did not at least get the ball to the cup. “How many chances do you get to win the Masters?”

Not many when you’re 48.

“Our game’s a tough mental game. It plays a lot with your head out there.”

This is the way it is supposed to be . . .

Every green jacket should have a saga.

On a day Angel Cabrera nearly shanks a shot on No. 8, he wins the Masters.

On a day he drives behind a tree on the first playoff hole, then has his next shot bounce off another tree and onto the fairway, Angel Cabrera wins the Masters.

Forty-one years after Argentina’s Roberto De Vicenzo suffered one of golf’s most infamous calamities when he signed an erroneous Masters scorecard to be disqualified from a playoff, his countryman finishes the job.

“It’s not going to change what happened to him,” Cabrera says through a translator. “But to take this major back to Argentina is going to mean a lot, I hope, to help our game.”

The last few holes have a frantic quality to them. Cabrera won the 2007 U.S. Open and understands the battle with one’s own pounding heart.

“At this stage of the tournament, any player who says he is not nervous is not human,” he says.

Somewhere, De Vicenzo has to be proud of him. Know who else is? Kenny Perry.

“He was fighting just as hard as I was,” sad Perry said.

The sun sets on a Sunday that brings drama from the young and the old, and leaves an enchanted winner, while others wonder how it slipped away.

“This is the Masters,” the new champion says. “A lot of magical things happen.”

The way it is supposed to be, on this Sunday, is the way it is.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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