Now he's in a six-way tie for 11th place on 216 and will need something exceptional to challenge for the title against England's Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia of Spain.
Rose will have a say in that though, the former US Open champion matching the best back nine score for the week to give himself an opportunity for a second Major with his inward half of 31, two better than Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel. He was tied with Garcia, Fowler and Pieters after 36 holes. "I was very calm, much calmer than yesterday, much calmer than I've felt probably in any major championship on Sunday".
The four-times major victor, now 47, was the last man into the weekend and an uneven number of players...
"The negative was just my play was atrocious", he said. "To do it on his 60th birthday, it's something unbelievable". He deserves it as much as anyone out here. Whatever. If I come back again, great.
Els is content either way, desiring another chance to play amid the Georgia pines but grateful for the 23 years he's had to chase a green jacket.
The Englishman, who won the 2013 U.S. Open and an Olympic gold medal past year, made birdies on five of his final seven holes, including the hard 17th and 18th.
Garcia, who has never won a major, has never been closer than fourth heading into the final round in his previous 18 Masters appearances. There's still a chance (to return), I'm still trying to win a (PGA) Tour event to get to 20. Rose was in trouble from the start with a tee shot that sailed right, leaving him blocked by a Magnolia tree. He came up 7 feet short on his first putt but rammed home the par attempt to hold onto his share of the lead and his spot in the final twosome with Rose.
Garcia squatted and shook with excitement, rose and screamed with joy and hugged good pal Rose before walking around the green to revel in the moment, pumping his fist and punching the green in delight.
Sergio Garcia has won the first major championship of his career with a dramatic, sudden-death victory over Justin Rose at the Masters. "I hit it where I wanted".More news: Rose, Garcia tied for lead at Masters in prelude to finale
No longer will Garcia be jabbed as a great golfer who chokes in the back-nine on Sundays. His approach on the 15th hole went over the green, and after a fine pitch to 10 feet, he missed that one, too.
"I don't even know how much it would mean to be able to join both of my idols as a Masters victor", Garcia said. "I knew I was playing well enough", Garcia said. "I was a little frustrated". "It got me more confident". The one-stroke loss to Mickelson, best remembered for Lefty's celebration leap on No. 18, took something out of Els, who never again finished better than 13th.
"Any time one of those guys gets that huge monkey off their back, I think it makes it a poignant major championship", Rose said afterward.
Goodness. This is one day is why sports psychology will forever be a recession-proof profession.
He safely negotiated Amen Corner, where he came to grief spectacularly in the final round previous year, and picked up further birdies at the par-five 13th and 15th holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the par-three 16th.
He was a new man with a new title: Masters champion.
Rose birdied to match Garcia, then birdied the par-3 16th only to bogey and remain deadlocked to set up the closing drama.
Also challenging were Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 victor, at three under, with 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa another shot back.