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Chaos at the majors

Rory McIlroy had the Masters in his grasp. Eighteen holes left, a four-shot lead, three days of brilliant golf behind him.

Then the final round started. An indifferent front nine turned into utter disaster on the back, the public bleeding profuse until it ended 80 shots later, Rory a whopping 10 shots behind the charging Charl Schwartzel, who birdied the last four holes to slip on the green coat.

Yes, it was painful to view, but not as much a surprise as you might think. You try and sleep on a 54-hole lead in a major, knowing that, if successful, your life will instantly change.

Only a few years ago, when Tiger Woods was dominant and scandal-free, he took 14 leads to the final round of a major and won them all. He knew how to close, at least before Y.E. Yang stunned him at the PGA Championship in 2009, and you know the rest.

Now it's all different. Three times in the last four majors, the guy in front going into the final round shot 80 or worse - first Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open, then Nick Watney at the PGA, and now the young McIlroy.

Not only that, but once the leader got humbled, those last 18 holes turned into a free-for-all, half a dozen players (at least) possessing a chance to win, the outcome totally obscure until the very end.

And you know what? It's a lot of fun. Maybe the only problem with Tiger's full envelopment of the golf scene was that the endgame got too predictable, at least in the routs. It took the unsung heroes (Bob May, Chris DiMarco, Rocco Mediate) to inject life into the inevitability.

In the last year, though, forget that notion. Even when Tiger is involved in the last-day chaos, he hasn't prevailed, which would make him human and sympathetic was it not for all the scandals.

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