AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Masters delivered the show everyone wanted and a champion no one expected.
Angel Cabrera became the first Argentine to win the green jacket at Augusta National on Sunday by surviving a wild final round that began with a supercharged duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and ended with a stunning collapse by Kenny Perry.
Indeed, this Masters had it all.
Two shots behind with two holes to play, Cabrera fought his way into a three-way playoff when the 48-year-old Perry, on the verge of becoming golf's oldest major champion, bogeyed the final two holes.
Even in a playoff, Cabrera looked like the odd man out.
He drove into the trees, hit another shot off a Georgia pine, but still scrambled for par with an 8-foot putt. He won with a routine par on the 10th hole when Perry missed the green badly to the left and made yet another bogey, this one the most costly of them all.
"I may never get this opportunity ever again, but I had a lot of fun being in there," Perry said. "I had the tournament to win. I lost the tournament. But Angel hung in there. I was proud of him."
Cabrera, who won the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago, finally earned a green jacket for Argentina.
It was 41 years ago when Roberto de Vicenzo made one of golf's most famous gaffes, signing for the wrong score that denied him a spot in a Masters playoff.
De Vicenzo gave him a picture of a green jacket two years ago when Cabrera returned home as U.S. Open champion and told him to go for it. On this turbulent day, it took everything Cabrera had.
He closed with a 1-under 71 to get into the first three-man playoff at the Masters in 22 years.
Chad Campbell closed with a 69 and was eliminated on the first playoff hole when he found a bunker from the middle of the 18th fairway, then watched his 6-foot par putt lip out of the hole.
The final hour was almost enough to make a dizzy gallery forget about the Woods-Mickelson fireworks hours earlier.