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Final round of Masters loaded with emotion

OBSERVATIONS

Has there been a more volatile Sunday afternoon at the Masters than this one?

If there has, I can't remember it. There have been more emotionally dramatic finishes - Jack Nicklaus beating Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller in 1975 and Nicklaus winning in 1986 immediately come to mind - but the back nine on Sunday felt like overload.

The lead ping-ponged among so many players it was hard to keep track of who was where. At one point deep into the back nine, I wondered what had happened to Charl Schwartzel, who was busy making 11 straight pars until his four-birdie finish reminded all of us where he was.

It had the high of seeing Tiger Woods charging and the low of seeing Rory McIlroy collapse framing all that happened in between. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Schwartzel won, not because he wasn't deserving but because he was perhaps the most unfamiliar name on the board.

If you don't think the Masters is serious about no cell phones on the course, ask Charlie Rymer. The Golf Channel commentator, who was working for Westwood One radio last week, was caught using his phone a few yards outside the media center. He was taken off the property and, after apologizing, was allowed back a day later.

Some things never change. The first early odds are out for June's U.S. Open and bodog .com has Woods a 6-1 favorite with Phil Mickelson 10-1. McIlroy is 16-1.

Count me among those who think McIlroy, 21, will be able to shake off what happened to him Sunday at Augusta National. It won't go away but McIlroy's positive approach will help him move forward. He needs to get a handle on the pull-hooks he has sometimes hit under pressure - the shot that ignited his 10th-hole triple-bogey - but unlike some players, McIlroy doesn't seem inclined to feel sorry for himself.

CHIP SHOTS

Carolina Golf Club will host the Carolinas Mid-Amateur championship beginning Friday, putting the club on Charlotte's west side on a big stage.

Steve Liebler is the defending champion. It's a big moment for Carolina, which was originally designed by Donald Ross and recently renovated by Kris Spence. The club has its eyes on hosting more regional events.

The annual Rounds 4 Research online auction runs through April 17. If you're interested in bidding on rounds of golf at courses throughout the Carolinas, many of them not typically open to the public, visit www.rounds4research.com . Money raised goes to turfgrass research.

Fred Couples said he will take a month off to work with doctors in Texas in hopes of getting his back in better shape. If he's healthy enough, Couples is more likely to play in the Regions Tradition on the Champions Tour rather than the Wells Fargo Championship here the same week.

If PGA Tour officials are looking at the field to determine if the Valero Texas Open is a better fit than The Heritage for the week after the Masters, they can't be encouraged. The field for the San Antonio stop this week is the weakest of the year.

Only three players ranked among the top 25 in the world - led by No. 17 Adam Scott - are in the field and Charlotte's Johnson Wagner is the only 2011 tour winner playing. The field at Harbour Town next week is significantly stronger.

THEY SAID IT

"My dad's got a chicken farm which actually sells eggs and we also have corn. I used to help. I love being on a farm. Used to drive the tractor and do all those things when I was a youngster." Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on growing up in South Africa.

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