Schwartzel wins, Aussies miss at Masters

On the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s first Masters title in 1961, it was a fitting tribute when South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to win the 2011 US Masters by two strokes from Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day.

Schwartzel entered the final round four strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy but quickly made his mark on the leaderboard with an opening birdie and an eagle at the par 4 3rd before giving one back at the next hole.

Charl Schwartzel Charl Schwartzel: 2011 US Masters champion

The world number twenty-nine remained steady at 10-under through the next 10 holes before reeling off his tournament winning stretch of birdies beginning at the par 5 15th.

“I didn’t make a birdie from the third hole – I made eagle, but I didn’t make any birdies from there on, but just kept making pars and hitting good shots.”

“And then I saw Adam Scott and Jason Day all of a sudden started getting things going.”

“And that birdie at 15 was big. That got me going out of that par, sort that have par stretch that I had. And you know what, just from there on I just hit really good iron shots. I got my focus, felt really calm, and just hit really good iron shots and gave myself good opportunities and managed to keep the nerves in good spots.”

While it was jubilation for the South Africans, it was yet another year at the Masters where the Australians came up short but Scott and Day can feel very proud that they gave it all they had.

Adam Scott’s switch to the long putter has paid off with his game looking the best it has in many years. Scott sunk several monster putts across the back nine holes that in years gone by would never have stood a chance.

“I played well today and that’s all I could ask for. Obviously I can’t control Charl, and when you birdie the last four holes at the Masters and you’re around the lead, that usually wins.”

“Nothing I can do about it. I hung in there as long as I could and kind of had a look at it on the last but not my best effort; but still, I’ve got to be pretty proud with the way I played over the weekend.”

Ultimately his 12-under was not enough, however Scott now knows that he has the all-round game to win a green jacket and it would seem it is only a matter of time before that happens.

With his 18th hole birdie equalling his long-time friend and countryman Adam Scott at 12-under, Queensland’s Jason Day has proven to the golfing world that he has well and truly arrived.

“Me and Scottie played wonderfully today. We couldn’t do anything else. Obviously in the heat of the moment, 15 would have been a good birdie chance, but unfortunately I didn’t birdie that one.”

“I played great all week, and I’m very happy in my first Masters finish tied second. So I’m not disappointed, I’m happy where I finished. Hats off to Charl for playing so well.”

Day’s total (72-64-72-68 = 276) was the best ever by a Masters debutante and his cool and calm demeanour, even under the greatest of pressure, means that it won’t be his last.

The Masters demons took their toll on the overnight leader, Rory McIlroy, who slumped to a tie for 15th following a horror final round of 80, which included four bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey.

The signs were not good early on with a bogey five at his very first hole but it wasn’t until the turn where the wheels really began to fall off. In the space of three holes, he dropped six shots and surrendered his lead to Adam Scott.

While the bitter disappointment will no doubt linger for some time, McIlroy at just 21-years-old, will take a lot from this experience and will return with a much wiser head over the coming years.

It wouldn’t be the Masters without a charge from Tiger Woods and while it was not enough this year, the former world number one, came close to doing the unthinkable to win his fifth green jacket.

Woods, who began the day in 9th place and seven strokes from the lead, came out blazing with four birdies and an eagle in his first nine holes. Unfortunately a lone birdie and bogey on the all-important home stretch put paid to any hope of a Tiger victory this week.

Uncharacteristic sloppiness on and around the greens cost Tiger this week. He missed many short putts, easily enough to win him the tournament, however the passion to win was clearly there so it may not be long before we see Tiger with a podium finish again.

With up to ten players within two shots of the lead at times, there were so many stories of what could have been.

Adam Scott, Jason Day, K.J. Choi and Geoff Ogilvy looking to bring the first green jacket home to their respective countries, Luke Donald’s chip in at the final hole after an unbelievable bunker-side one-legged chipshot, Bo Van Pelt’s dual eagles on the back nine.

But ultimately it was the fairytale finish over the closing four holes by little known South African, Charl Schwartzel, that will be remembered for some time to come.

Although for everyone in Down Under, it is the sniff of victory from the Aussie camp that will be just enough to get us all out out of bed early again next year.

And I can’t wait.

Top 10 Results

PosTotalPlayerTodayR1R2R3R4
1-14Charl Schwartzel-669716866
T2-12Jason Day-472647268
T2-12Adam Scott-572706767
T4-10Tiger Woods-571667467
T4-10Geoff Ogilvy-569697367
T4-10Luke Donald-372686969
7-9Angel Cabrera-171706771
T8-8Bo Van Pelt-273696870
T8-8K.J. ChoiE67707172
10-6Ryan Palmer-271726970
T47+5Aaron Baddeley+275707474

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