Tiger Woods described his dramatic birdie on the 16th green as a vital factor in his fourth Masters victory.
His 25ft chip from the back of the green turned 90 degrees, rolled to the lip of the hole and finally dropped in.
The birdie gave Woods a two-shot lead but he allowed Chris DiMarco to force a play-off after bogeys at 17 and 18.
Woods, who dedicated his triumph to his absent father Earl, who is being treated for cancer, said: "I would rank that as one of the best I've ever hit."
The shot will go down as one of the most memorable moments in Masters history, from Gene Sarazen's double eagle four-wood in 1935 to Larry Mize's chip-in to beat Greg Norman in a play-off in 1987.
"I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill and let it feed down there and hopefully have a makeable putt," said Woods, who won at the first play-off hole.
"All of a sudden, it looked really good, and it looked like how could it not go in, and how did it not go in, and all of a sudden it went in."
The American admitted he was relieved to have ended his barren run of 10 majors without a victory.
Woods, whose last major title was back at the 2002 US Open, said: "I've had to battle for the last couple of years.
"I've been working hard on my game and made some changes but I wasn't winning major championships.
"I contended a couple of times and didn't win but, for the most part, I wasn't in contention on the back nine of a major."
The new world number one also praised DiMarco for the gritty way he kept fighting back during the final round.
"This was one fun victory, but also a lot of work because I was playing with one heck of a competitor," Woods said.
"Chris has got no back-off in him. He'll come at you... and that's what he did today. He put up a heck of a fight."
DiMarco said: "To be in the thick of it was awesome and to make my five-footer on the 18th was great.
"The difference was his chip on the 16th went in and mine on the 18th lipped out.
"I hit a 68 in the last round of the Masters and normally that would be enough to win, but then I was playing Tiger Woods.
"It was close all the way to the end. I proved a lot to myself."
An emotional Woods dedicated his ninth major title to Woods Sr, explaining: "He was not healthy enough to come out today.
"The troubles he has gone through he was not looking good and he is having a hard time right now.
"But there's a big bear-hug waiting for him and I dedicate this to him."