When Sunday dawned over the hallowed ground of Augusta National, we were set for the coronation of a new king.
Even though he was just 21-years-old, Rory McIlroy seemed destined for golf immortality.
After all, he grabbed the lead at the Masters on opening day, held onto it on Friday and increased it to a significant four-stroke advantage on Saturday.
He had done so showing an unflappable style. It appeared nothing could shake this Northern Ireland lad, who wasn't going to beat himself. If he was going to lose the Masters, it would only be because somebody else had an incredible final day.
But something happened to McIlroy on his way to getting fitted for that coveted green jacket. This was no instant meltdown like Jean Van de Velde experienced at the conclusion of the 1999 British Open. Rather, McIlroy's fall from grace was gradual yet consistent. Before he or anybody else knew it, his four-stroke lead and his mojo were gone.
Rather than a one-man runaway, we had more than half-a-dozen contenders with a legitimate chance to win.
One of them was Tiger Woods, who began the day seven shots behind. Just as there was no reason to think McIlroy was going to choke, there were no signs one of those patented Woods' comebacks. His Saturday round was uninspiring and workmanlike. There was no magic in his driver, his irons or his putter. To think that Woods was going to work his way into contention would have been sheer folly.
But there he was. As Rory disappeared, The Roar appeared. Tiger was on the prowl and the atmosphere at Augusta National was electric.
Never had so many players been in contention on the back nine on Sunday. And that was Tiger's problem. This was a numbers game. He was one of more than a half-dozen in contention, but he was running out of holes and the others still had those favorable par 5s to play.
Although Tiger came up short, his rally was great for golf. Although I had watched the first three days of Masters coverage, I watched only because it was the Masters. The play wasn't all that inspiring and while a McIlroy victory would have been hailed as a passing of the torch to a new generation of golfers, it wasn't a stellar storyline.
Then came the final two hours Sunday. It was like a five-wide free-for-all on the last lap at Daytona. Even watching it on TV, you could feel the excitement.
This is why we watch sports. For such fantastic finishes are better than anything Hollywood can attempt to make us believe.
In the end, Charl Schwartzel, a little known South African birdied the last four holes and became one of the most improbable winners of the greatest golf tournament in the world.
It's 361 days to the next Masters, and I can't wait. Golf is back!
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com