AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The pre-tournament buzz was loud with anticipation, offering plenty of conjecture about the 82nd Masters portending to be the best ever. With so many top players competing at their best, the Augusta National canvas was laid out beautifully for an epic showdown among the game's greats. And with Tiger Woods back for the first time in three years, and playing well, there was an added sense of anticipation. Woods was not able to deliver that kind of epic story, finishing well out of contention. But there were plenty of other big names in the mix as the tournament progressed, including Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm. And it made for another memorable Masters Sunday.
• Getting his first major title was not easy. Reed played and up-and-down first nine, a two-birdie, two-bogey 36 that didn't exactly separate himself from a field that was slowly creeping up on him. His playing partner, Rory McIlroy, didn't make a big push, but those in the groups in front of Reed made some major noise. Jordan Spieth flirted with the course record before settling on an 8-under 64. Rickie Fowler, like Reed searching for his first major, posted a 5-under 67. But Reed, after a bogey at No. 10, played his final eight holes in 1 under and held off the chasing pack. The player who twice led nearby Augusta State to national championships now had won his first major championship at Augusta National. The questions about whether or not he could win the big one are now a thing of the past.
• The whole world saw triumph and tragedy in a matter of moments as Finau made a hole-in-one during Wednesday's Par 3 Contest and then ran off the tee, before starting to run backward and falling to the ground as he severely twisted his ankle, dislocating it. That would have been a horrible way to miss his first Masters. But Finau -- despite what he said was excruciating pain after the injury occurred -- was cleared to play. He shot 68 in the opening round and made the most of his first time at Augusta National, shooting a final-round 66 to finish among the top 12 and assure himself a return invitation.
• The University of Texas senior was the only amateur to make the cut, thus earning low amateur honors. He made three eagles for the week and also holed out for a birdie from a bunker on the 18th hole Sunday. Having his dad caddie for him was nice too.
Par 3 Contest
• To some, it has become something of a sideshow, with families a big part of the pre-tournament event taking the spotlight. But this year's event had a nice competitive bent to it, as 68-year-old Tom Watson won at 6 under playing alongside Jack Nicklaus, 78, who was 4 under and Gary Player, 82, who was 2 under. The highlight, of course, was the ace by Nicklaus' caddie/grandson at the ninth. GT Nicklaus -- who is Gary Nicklaus' son -- brought his grandfather to tears with his first-ever hole-in-one. Jack called it his greatest day out of so many as Augusta National.
• Despite stating that the pressure was on third-round leader Reed, there was plenty on McIlroy, as well. This was his best shot at the career Grand Slam since positioning himself heading into the 2015 Masters, and he was not up to the challenge. McIlroy had pulled within one stroke of Reed after two holes and had all the momentum, but he fell back with a bogey at the third and never got closer than two the rest of the way. It was his best chance to win since his 2011 back-nine meltdown, and McIlroy was unable to deliver.
• The defending champion's return was ruined at the same hole that helped him to a green jacket a year ago. Garcia pumped five balls into the water on Thursday at the par-5 15th -- the same hole he eagled by hitting the flagstick on his way to a playoff victory last year. The 15th can cause fits, and Garcia's 6-iron shot from 206 yards looked good, only to land onto the green, hit a slope and roll back into the water. But Garcia got stubborn after that, hitting four wedge shots that ended up with the same fate. At some point, you hit the shot that you know will clear the water. Garcia wound up with a 13, effectively ruining his title defense. He missed the cut and had to hang around to hand out the green jacket.
• They played an unlikely practice round together on Tuesday and were the talk of the tournament. Fred Couples talked them up, as did Nicklaus and Player. Phil Mickelson won a month ago in Mexico. Woods had two top-5s in an amazingly successful comeback from spinal fusion surgery. Nobody knows the course better. And by Friday, both were out of contention. Mickelson matched his worst round with a 79. Woods found himself in danger of missing the cut. Both had decent weekends, but overall, it was a disappointing week.