Charl Schwartzel of South Africa closed with four straight birdies to win the Masters today over Adam Scott and Jason Day after a wild final day at Augusta National.
Eight players had held at least a share of the lead during the day, but it was the 26-year-old Schwartzel who turned in one of the great finishing performances in major championship history.
Schwartzel made a 20-footer at the final hole to wrap up a 6-under 66. He finished 14-under 274, enough to deny Australia its first green jacket.
Scott shot a 67 and Day finished with two straight birdies for a 68, leaving both Aussies at 276. It wasn't enough to hold off Schwartzel, who gives South Africa another major champion.
"It was just such an exciting day," Schwartzel said. "There were so many roars and the atmosphere out there was just incredible."
Tiger Woods was in a group at 278, failing to capitalize after making four birdies and an eagle to shoot a 31 on the front side. He missed short putts at both the 12th and 15th holes, limping to the finish with a 36 on the back nine.
"It could have been," he said. "I hit it good all day."
Schwartzel becomes the fourth straight first-time major champion, following Martin Kaymer of Germany (PGA Championship), countryman Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland (U.S. Open).
Rory McIlroy fell apart on the final day. The Northern Ireland golfer, who entered the day with a four-stroke lead on the field, ricocheted a shot between two cabins along the 10th hole, took a triple-bogey and never recovered.
McIlroy shot an 80, winding up 10 strokes behind Schwartzel.