By Garrett Johnston
Augusta, Ga. – Tony Finau’s magical run in only his second Masters came up a couple shots short to winner Tiger Woods at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon as Woods unleashed one of the most amazing victories of his entire career, winning his fifth green jacket.
Woods walked away from storied Augusta National leaving the fans and his fellow players in amazement after he captured his first major championship since 2008 and fifteenth major overall and exuberantly rejoiced afterwards on the green, with his family, and with fellow players by the scoring area.
It was a moment that sports fans won’t long forget.
So how did the superstar do it?
“I just kept saying, ‘I've been here, it wasn't that long ago’,” Woods said in his presser. “Just go ahead and just keep playing your game, keep plodding along and keep doing all the little things correctly.”
This titan of sports says he struggled processing just what he had done afterwards.
“It hasn't sunk in at all,” Woods said. “This is one of those things, it's going to take a little bit of time.”
Other who’ve known Woods and worked with him in the past like his former swing coach Chris Como had some emphatic observations about this moment.
"It's unbelievable, I’m so happy for him" Como said. "The best comeback in sports history."
As for the Utahn, Finau finished at 11-under par after an even-par 72, good for a tie for fifth.
“It was pretty much everything I expected,” Finau said. “The crowds were going crazy for Tiger and I battled until we had the door open on twelve. That was the change of the tournament. Francesco (Molinari) hit it in the water. I knew I just needed to hit it on land, I needed to put it in the bunker and (I) just barely hit it chunky and it kind of rolls on me.”
Finau’s coach Boyd Summerhays agreed that Finau’s double bogey at twelve was a turning point.
“Number 12 was where the tournament got away,” Summerhays said. “He knew he needed to hit it where Tiger did (on the green) and admittedly just made a poor swing at the wrong time.”
Finau’s caddie Greg Bodine discussed their strategy on the one shot that will likely go down as the most crucial from this final round.
“We saw the guys in front of us go in the water and so we had to keep it left of the flag,” Bodine said. “He hit it right at it and just hoped it covered the green. It was a close, but a tough shot.”
Finau’s chances of catching Woods later on the back nine ended when he missed his short eagle putt on the par 5 15th.
And even though Sunday at Augusta National would prove to be Woods’ day instead of Finau’s, his father Kelepi who walked all four tournament days had a positive takeaway.
“That’s the most pressure you can feel in golf is grouping with Tiger Woods on the weekend on Sunday at Augusta,” Kelepi said. “Now there’s probably no other experience for him to feel pressure at that level, so now he can be able to focus on winning.”
And playing with Woods on Sunday during what will do down as one of the star’s greatest victories gave Finau a unique opportunity.
Woods made his clinching putt and exploded with emotional reactions, and the first person who he shook hands with as a newly minted winner of fifteen majors and five green jackets was the tall Utahn.
“You can't beat the experience,” Finau said of playing with a victorious Woods. “It's something you can't pay for. When you're someone like me in my shoes still trying to come up, still trying to win majors...you can’t beat playing with the best that’s ever done it.”
Garrett Johnston has covered 25 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnstonGarrett
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