AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One of the traditions at the Masters is for the winner to write a letter to the president of Augusta National, thanking him for the opportunity and talking about what it was like to put on the green jacket.
Tiger Woods started a new tradition yesterday, though he finished back in the pack at 5-over-par 293. At the end of his news conference, the 19-year-old U.S. Amateur champion read a letter he had written to tournament officials and staff, as well as members of the club.
Calling it "the opportunity to experience the most wonderful week of my life . . . fantasy land and Disney World wrapped into one" -- Woods said that he began a new chapter of his already legendary career in his first appearance at the Masters.
"I've accomplished much here and learned even more," wrote Woods, who finished his third par-72 with a flourish, with birdies on three of the last four holes. "Your tournament will always hold a special spot in my heart as a place where I made my first PGA cut, and at a major yet.
"It is here that I left my youth behind and became a man. For that I will be eternally in your debt."
Considering the attention surrounding Woods coming into this tournament, his performance was amazing. His length off the tee -- he averaged over 300 yards a drive -- is already the stuff of legend around here.
Woods will get another chance to test his skills with the best players in the world at this year's U.S. Open in June at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. He also will play in the British Open and the PGA, which will be played near his home in Torrance, Calif., at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
For now he will be going back to Stanford, where he is a freshman. Woods expected to be on a flight to San Francisco last night, and back in classes later today.
"College golf is fine with me," said Woods, who has stated his intentions to finish his four years there. "I have a lot of friends out there. It is going to be a blast playing with my teammates again, traveling with the team."
As Woods was about to leave, Augusta board member Charlie Yates told him, "I try to be quiet around here, but as secretary of the club, I think I should respond to say it has been a privilege and delight to have yourself here and your mother and father here. And as they say in the old country, hasten ye back."
Mickelson also makes mark
Phil Mickelson set two Masters records for a left-handed player. His seventh-place tie was the highest finish ever by a left-hander, and his 8-under 280 was the lowest score. Bob Charles held the record for best finish, 15th in 1963, and his 2-under 286 in 1968 had been the lowest score.
"I feel like I'm giving myself a chance [to win a major]," said Mickelson, who finished tied for third at last year's PGA Championship. "I made a couple of mistakes. Once you do that under these conditions in a major, they'll eat you up."
Olazabal drops back
Defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who came into the day at 4-under par, finished back in the pack after an even-par 72.