DiMarco was only the runner-up.
The guy with the green jacket -- Tiger Woods -- was on the other side of town in Orlando, Fla., meeting VIPs from Accenture, one of his sponsors, for a Monday outing planned long before he won his fourth Masters.
Rarely does second place draw so much attention.
``I went out and shot 68 around here on Sunday, which is a very good round. And 12 under is usually good enough to win,'' DiMarco said after his playoff loss. ``I just was playing against Tiger Woods.''
That's what made this runner-up finish so compelling. That's why the loudest cheers were for DiMarco along the back nine at Augusta National, and even during the closing ceremony, when Woods paid tribute to ``one heck of a competitor out there.''
It was almost an afterthought during the final round that DiMarco had been here before -- not just in the final group at the Masters, but in a playoff at a major. Seven months ago at Whistling Straits, he missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the PGA Championship, then lost in a three-way playoff to Vijay Singh.
But that was different.
Justin Leonard should have won the PGA except for a balky putter. DiMarco slipped into contention with a 1-under 71, the only player among the final 11 groups who broke par on a vicious course. The memory of DiMarco from Whistling Straits is that he had a birdie putt on the 18th hole and left it short.
He was the model of grit and determination at the Masters.
DiMarco shot 41 on the back nine Sunday morning to finish his third round, turning a four-shot lead into a three-shot deficit to a player who had never lost the lead in the final round of a major.
No one gave him a chance.
It was a two-man race from the start, and DiMarco never backed down. Despite giving up 80 yards at times off the tee, DiMarco was inside Woods for birdie on all but five holes. He was aggressive, fearless. He tried to make birdies on his last two holes and left himself 6 feet for par, then made both those to force a playoff.
This was quite a change from last year at Augusta National, when he was tied for the lead with Phil Mickelson going into the last round and shot 76 to quickly take himself out of contention.
``I don't think I was ready to win,'' DiMarco said. ``This year, I was ready to win. I really felt like I could win it. And coming out the way I did, I will be ready to win next year.''
What about the next major?
There already is some thought that DiMarco should move to the top of the list as the ``best player to have never won a major,'' but only because his final round is still fresh.
DiMarco has only won three times in his 10 years on the PGA Tour, none against particularly strong fields. There's a reason for that.
He had at least joined some exclusive company Sunday, even if it's not the kind he wants to keep.
Not since Tom Watson at the 1978 PGA Championship and 1979 Masters has someone lost back-to-back major championships in a playoff. Craig Wood is the only other player with that distinction, having lost in 38 holes in the finals of the 1934 PGA Championship, then in a 36-hole playoff to Gene Sarazen at the 1935 Masters.
Sarazen got into the playoff with a shot that put the Masters on the map -- a 4-wood for double eagle on the 15th. Woods ultimately got into a playoff with a shot for the ages. His chip behind the 16th green made a U-turn at the top of the slope, came to a full stop at the edge of the cup and then got the green light from above, dropping in for birdie.
DiMarco is the first player since Tom Lehman to play in the final group of a major at least two straight years without winning. Lehman was in the last group at four straight U.S. Opens, and had at least a share of the lead in three of them.
Now, DiMarco must be careful to avoid joining the wrong crowd.
``I think I proved to a lot of people that I can play under the heat,'' the runner-up said.
That wasn't DiMarco, though.
Those words came from Bob May after he matched Woods shot-for-shot in high drama at Valhalla in the 2000 PGA Championship, the only other major Woods won in a playoff.
Golf is loaded with players who show their mettle in a major, but end their career as just another runner-up. Ed Sneed at the Masters. Mike Donald at the U.S. Open. Brain Watts at the British Open. Mike Reid at the PGA.
Even multiple close calls in a major doesn't guarantee anything, as Colin Montgomerie and Chip Beck can attest.
DiMarco has proved to be a top-rate golfer. He has played in the Tour Championship the last five years. He won a crucial singles match at the Presidents Cup, and was the only American with a winning record at the Ryder Cup last fall.
``There is no back off in him,'' Woods said.
There is no major championship on his resume, either, at least not yet.
DiMarco wants to be known for more than giving the No. 1 player in the world the fight of his life on the grandest stage in golf. He is universally respected today. He might be part of a trivia question tomorrow.
Only a major can change that.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.