Jason Day embraced his countryman Adam Scott and wished him well.
There, just outside the Clubhouse, their Masters paths diverged. Scott headed for a playoff and Australian golf history; Day left to contemplate another near miss.
“It’s unfortunate, but I’m very happy with how things are going right now with Adam,” Day said. “I’m hoping that he pulls through and he can be the first player, if it wasn’t me.”
It almost was, if not for two bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17 that came when Day appeared in control of the Tournament amid a steady rain.
“It’s really tough,” Day said. “The pressure got to me a little bit.”
Day shot a final-round 70, a 2-under-par ride that began at a torrid pace, swerved around Augusta National, crashed into a few dogwoods and resulted in four birdies, four bogeys and an eagle.
He finished at 7-under par, alone in third place, two strokes behind Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, who distanced themselves with stunning birdies at No. 18.
Day, playing in the group ahead of Scott, faced a 20-footer at No. 18 that would have tied for the lead at that point. As the putt cruelly refused to break a final inch or so to the left, Day dropped to his knees and held his head in his hands.
It was a similar putt that Scott would make moments later en route to becoming the first Australian to win the Masters.
Two years ago, in his first Masters, Day tied for second with Scott in the 2011 shootout that Charl Schwartzel won with birdies on the last four holes.
“I love this Tournament regardless of where I finish,” Day said. “It’s a little disappointing, but there’s a lot of experience that I can take into the next year, and hopefully I can wear one of those Green Jackets soon.”
Day seemed preordained to break through Sunday. He holed a bunker shot for eagle at No. 2. Wayward drives at Nos. 11 and 15 hit trees and ricocheted safely back in play.
At No. 13, he hit his drive through the fairway and into the pine straw. Forced to thread his second shot between two trees, Day went for the green and flew his ball into the back bunker.
He was faced with a dicey downhill shot to a front flagstick. Water loomed not far beyond the hole, but Day’s high, soft lob caught the slope and trickled 2 feet away for a tap-in.
That was the start of three consecutive birdies that briefly lifted Day into the lead.
“Jason was looking very much in control, and I was just trying to go about my business,” Scott said.
But like he did in the third round, Day faltered down the stretch.
Day missed a four-footer for par at No. 16 after he hit his tee shot just over the green, leaving him tied with Scott, one ahead of Cabrera. Day’s approach found the front bunker on 17, and he failed to save par.
“It was a good set up,” Day said. “I hit a bunch of shots to that left pin on 16, and unfortunately I hit it too far left. On 17, I only had to go an extra foot or two and it would have been over the bunker.”
Day had bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 on Saturday, missing short par putts, otherwise he would have started the final round tied for the lead with Cabrera and Snedeker.
Still, Day, a 25-year-old from Queensland, believes there will be more chances.
“It’s an honor to come and play against the best players in the world,” Day said, “and have a shot at winning my first major and being the first Australian to win the Masters.”