South African Trevor Immelman secured a maiden major title with a three-shot victory in the 72nd Masters at Augusta.
The 28-year-old, who had surgery in December to remove a tumour, held his nerve to become the first wire-to-wire winner since Ray Floyd in 1976.
The anticipated charge from the likes of Tiger Woods did not materialise as Immelman shot a 75 to end eight under.
Woods climbed from fifth to second with a level-par 72 but will rue his missed chances as Immelman stumbled late on.
Immelman, who led by two overnight, double-bogeyed the short 16th after finding water off the tee when leading by five.
It was just so tough - there was a disaster around every corner
But he got up and down from a greenside bunker on 17 for a nerve-settling par and holed out for par on the last to become the second South African to win the Masters and the first since his hero Gary Player claimed the last of his three Green Jackets in 1978.
"It was just so tough - there was a disaster around every corner as I showed on 16, but I just hung in there," said Immelman, whose previous best at Augusta was tied fifth in 2005.
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Highlights: Day four of the Masters
"Gary Player has been onto me all week, telling me that I could do it and I'm glad that I pulled through for him."
The 32-year-old Woods, the world number one, was six shots adrift overnight but still within touching distance of adding to his four Masters titles and 13 majors in all.
But despite overhauling three of the four men in front of him on Sunday morning, Woods's only real suggestion of a move came with a monster putt for birdie on the 11th.
Immelman's previous best was tied fifth in 2005
Immelman's victory continues Woods's run of never having won a major when coming from behind going into the final day, and it ends the American's hopes of a Grand Slam of all four majors this year.
"I figured if I played the last seven holes three under I might be in it but I just didn't make any putts all week," said Woods, who last won in 2005 and has since finished third, second and second.
"I hit the ball well enough to contend but I didn't put enough pressure on Trevor."
American Brandt Snedeker, who was second overnight, struggled to a closing 77 in the last group with Immelman and ended tied third on four under with countryman Stewart Cink, who edged quietly into position with a 72.
England's Paul Casey, four shots adrift in fourth overnight and carrying Britain's hopes of a first Masters winner since Nick Faldo in 1996, suffered a disastrous final round of seven-over 79 to plummet out of contention.
The players all know about Immelman's talent - Woods
And while the leading contenders were contriving to hand the title to Immelman, Open champion Padraig Harrington and two-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson made significant gains on the leaderboard, also with 72s, to finish two under and tied fifth with Steve Flesch (78).
"My short game was poor," said Harrington. "I was very comfortable on the golf course and well in the zone but I'm not satisfied with the high finish. We're all about trying to get out there and win. But what finishing like this says to me is I'm doing the right things."
Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez fired the round of the day, a 68, which included a holed second shot for eagle on the 7th and a chip-in on 18, to jump to one under.
Alongside Jimenez in a tie for eighth were Swede Robert Karlsson (73) and Argentine Andres Romero (73), who led the Open at Carnoustie last July before double-bogeying his penultimate hole.
The beleaguered Casey ended up level par alongside countryman Lee Westwood (73) and American debutant Nick Watney, while at one over, Australian Stuart Appleby, Fiji's Vijay Singh and American Sean O'Hair completed the top 16 who receive automatic invites next year.
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