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Masters 2007
Augusta - 5-8 April, 2007
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(US unless stated)
+1 Zach Johnson
+3 Rory Sabbatini (SA), Retief Goosen (SA), Tiger Woods
+4 Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose (Eng)
+5 Padraig Harrington (Ire), Stuart Appleby (Aus)
+6 David Toms
+7 Paul Casey (Eng), Luke Donald (Eng), Vaughn Taylor

By Matt Slater

Zach Johnson
Phil Mickelson helps Zach Johnson into his winner's prize
American Zach Johnson came through the pack on a dramatic final day at Augusta National to win his first major.

The 31-year-old from Iowa City carded a three-under-par 69 for a one-over total of 289 - the joint highest winning score in Masters history.

Two shots back were South African duo Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini, who also shot superb 69s, and Tiger Woods.

England's Justin Rose finished in a tie for fifth on four over with the fast-finishing American Jerry Kelly.

Johnson, a committed Christian, said: "It is amazing what God can do. I believe in myself but every now and then you miss a putt and you can get down on yourself but I've had a lot of support.

"I tried to be non-emotional out there - that was one of my goals. I just tried to stay in the present and go through my processes.

Zach has been a very good player for a long time

Retief Goosen
"I knew I could win on the major scene. I felt everything was ready and I prepared very hard."

The US Ryder Cup player might not be everybody's idea of a Masters winner - he was available at 200-1 before the tournament - but nobody can claim he does not deserve his Green Jacket moment.

The scoring was a little easier in the fourth round but the tension was off the scale. And while a host of golf's biggest names were losing their heads, the 56th-ranked Johnson kept his to land the 664,000 winner's cheque and the most famous blazer in sport.

His delicate chip at the last to seal his win was the shot of a true champion, particularly as his nerves were rattling after a bogey at the 17th appeared to give Rose and Woods, playing behind him, a chink of light.

"Zach has been a very good player for a long time," said Goosen, magnanimous in defeat. "He hits the ball straight, low and accurately - that's what you need around here."

Tiger Woods
Tiger's face gives everything away - this was a win that got away
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of Johnson's surprise second victory on the PGA Tour - his first came at the BellSouth Classic in 2004 - was that it happened so suddenly and so quietly.

He had been in or around the lead all week but nobody was expecting a relatively short-hitter without a top-10 in his previous 11 majors and no finish better than ninth this season to emerge as winner - not with the likes of Woods and Goosen on the warpath.

In fact, when he three-putted for a bogey from six feet at the 16th on Friday it seemed he would go the way of the other early leaders Tim Clark, Brett Wetterich and David Howell - south, very fast.

But the resolve he showed on Saturday to bounce back from what became a bogey-bogey-bogey finish to his second round was displayed once more on Sunday, and then some.


Despite seeing first Woods and then Goosen take top spot on the leaderboard, Johnson, who started with a bogey, continued to putt beautifully on Augusta's almost friction-free greens.

The 38-year-old Goosen was on fire on the front nine and seemed destined to complete a remarkable comeback from making the cut on the number to adding a Masters title to his two US Opens.

But his fourth birdie in eight holes was his last and he would never get as low as two over again.

Sabbatini also reached two over when he eagled the 8th before falling back. At that point it seemed to be South Africa versus Woods, as the much hoped-for (from this side of the Atlantic) European challenge failed to materialise.

Justin Rose and Padraig Harrington
Rose and Harrington never stopped trying and both will come again
But then a strange and wonderful thing happened. Woods, who had taken the lead almost by default as early as his fourth hole, started to lose the plot.

And Rose (who started double-bogey, birdie, double-bogey, bogey) began to show the combination of backbone and brilliance British golf fans have been waiting for since Nick Faldo's powers started to wane.

The 26-year-old bagged five birdies over the next 12 holes to awaken very real hopes of a first European triumph in a major since 1999.

But then disaster struck, just as it had earlier for his compatriots Paul Casey and Luke Donald when they too seemed to have Masters momentum on their side.

A poor drive at the 17th was compounded by a horrible ricochet off a tree that sent his ball almost 100 yards further off line and onto the 15th fairway. From there it was trouble all the way and the foundations for glory that had been built on 15 and 16 came crashing down with a third double-bogey.

A great approach to 18 did not produce the birdie he needed for a share of second but this week has been a huge step forward for the player who first came to our attention as an amateur when he finished fourth at the 1998 Open.

Zach Johnson
Johnson matched the round of the day to earn a deserved victory
Rose's playing partner Padraig Harrington also showed great mettle to come back from his poor start - three over through 11 - to play the last seven in two under for a five-over total and a share of seventh.

Alongside the Irishman was Stuart Appleby, who started with a two-shot lead but never really looked like becoming the first Australian winner of this famous tournament.

But what of the man he was playing with? The man almost everybody in Georgia was expecting to claim his third straight major victory, 13th in total and fifth Green Jacket?

Well, for Woods it was a decidedly odd day at the office.

The world number one had the lead and then lost it. Broke a club on a tree and then mended his game. Picked up a trademark eagle at the par-five 13th and then found the water at the par-five 15th.

But Woods, being Woods, was not completely out of it until his nine-iron to the 18th failed to drop to force a play-off.

That would have been cruel on Johnson, particularly as he had already battled against one of golf's most famous maxims - the Masters winner always comes from the last group.

But by the end, when defending champion Phil Mickelson had completed his first meaningful action since triple-bogeying the 1st, all that was left was that other well-worn factoid - Woods has still never won a major he was not leading after 54 holes.

Oh, and European golfers have now gone 30 majors without a victory.



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