Augusta: Xander Schauffele, in only his second Masters, was alone atop the leaderboard for a brief moment during the late stages of the final round but said falling short to Tiger Woods in a major was like a dream.
Schauffele, who was playing two groups ahead of Woods, ended up one shot back of the five-time champion and when asked about the experience at Augusta National was anything but bitter.
"Like a dream, honestly," said the 25-year-old Schauffele.
"It's what I watched as a kid. It's what I watched growing up. Just everything about it, and for me to be a part of it and give it a good run … it was an incredible experience today."
Schauffele, who began the day five shots back of overnight leader Francesco Molinari, rolled in a 2.5 metre birdie putt at the par-four 14th hole that put him into the lead for all but a couple minutes.
But despite being in contention at the year's first major, the American was not at all surprised by the small turnout for his post-round news conference.
"Just what I witnessed, I know it's what everyone is going to talk about; that's why this room's barely full. I know where everyone's at," said Schauffele.
"It's hard to really feel bad about how I played, just because I just witnessed history. It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Amen Corner, 15, 16, Tiger making the roars."
Schauffele's four-under-par 68 was one shot shy of the day's low round and earned him his fourth top-10 result in his eighth major championship start.
While Schauffele failed to secure his first major title, he left Augusta National confident he will be in the mix on the hallowed layout again and perhaps produce a result that will command more attention.
"I did have my 30 seconds in the sun with the lead and it was a really cool feeling," said Schauffele. "And like I said, it just proves to my team and I that we can contend and that we can win on this property."
Molinari blamed a bad swing execution along with a poor decision for the two double bogeys that cost him a chance of winning the Masters.
The reigning British Open champion had seemed impervious to the pressure of leading the final round of a major championship, even with Woods breathing down his neck.
The Italian putted brilliantly to keep his rivals at bay for 11 holes at Augusta National, and had a two-stroke lead over Woods when he walked to the 12th tee, one arm in the Green Jacket.
However, for the second time in four years, the watery grave known as Rae's Creek drowned the hopes of the leader.
In 2016 it was Jordan Spieth, who made a quadruple bogey.
For Molinari, he gauged a swirling breeze, pulled out an eight-iron and took aim at the pin, which was cut on the right side of the angling green, a longer carry over the water and an unnecessary risk under the circumstances.
His ball barely cleared the creek, landing on the bank and rolling back in.
"Just a bad execution," Molinari lamented afterwards. "I think we picked the right shot.
"I was trying to hit a chippy eight-iron. It was probably a nine-iron yardage but I didn't want the wind to gust and to get the ball too much and I just didn't hit it hard enough.
"That ball, if it's oRead More – Source