Had Jordan Spieth been off doing what other 21-year-olds do, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson would have waged a stirring contest for the green jacket, with Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson lurking.
Instead, the field nudged Spieth just enough to keep him honest without ever making him sweat.
"It was suited for fireworks if you went out there and played well," Mickelson said of the course setup. "I needed to do something spectacular. It was a solid round, but it wasn't exceptional."
It wasn't bad, either. Spieth's record-tying 18-under 270 score obscured a lot of good golf from a lot of good golfers. Mickelson shot a 69, finishing four off the lead, tied with Rose. McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama shot 66s and finished at 12 and 11 under, respectively.
The 14-under score turned in by Mickelson and Rose would have won or forced a playoff in 73 of the previous 78 Masters.
"It really shouldn't be that easy," Justin Rose said of Spieth. "Very impressive."
McIlroy played the first 27 holes of the tournament in 3 over par, and the last 45 holes in 15 under. He failed to complete the career Grand Slam but signaled that he has learned how to play Augusta National.
"I can take a lot of positives from it," McIlroy said.
On a day when Spieth's steady play suppressed the usual Sunday roars, Tiger Woods may have elicited the largest gasp. The gasp came from the press center when he described, during a TV interview, what happened when he hurt his hand while striking a tree root.
"A bone kind of popped out and the joint kind of went out of place, but I put it back in," he said.
On the CBS broadcast, Nick Faldo said, "That could have happened."
Woods hit only one fairway and shot 73, finishing tied for 17th. He said he'll take time to work on his game before competing again.
Mickelson had finished in the top 10 once in the previous year. He rallied at a tournament he's won three times to finish tied for second.
"The fact is, I would have taken 14 under at the start of the week," Mickelson said. "I would have been happy with that. I've played really well to shoot a 14 under and simply got outplayed by a young player who just played some incredible golf."