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Augusta welcomes new master Schwartzel

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Rob Hodgetts | 07:51 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

Augusta, Georgia

One man's dream died while another's life changed forever on a scintillating, sweltering final day at Augusta.

As Rory McIlroy self-destructed in 50 agonising minutes, Charl Schwartzel scrapped his way through a crowded leaderboard to clinch the maiden major title that will mark him out for the rest of his career.

McIlroy, the long-time leader, had barely put a foot wrong over three-and-a-half rounds. But one bad shot sparked a sequence of events that he will rue for days, weeks and months - possibly forever.

Firing his tee shot at the 10th into trees on the left, he had to hack out to the right before hitting into the left rough short of the green. "Military golf," they call it. "Left, right, left." To us amateurs, it's a familiar foe.

But this small stumble was about to turn into a complete collapse. Chipping up from below the green, McIlroy hit a Georgia pine straight on. A second chip was weak and barely made the putting surface. Two putts later, he had spilled three shots. Those of us squeezed in around the 10th green watched awkwardly as a young man's dream began to slip away just a few feet from us.

McIlroy still led as he prepared to tee off on the 10th. Photo: APMcIlroy still led as he prepared to tee off on the 10th. Photo: AP

At that point it was not necessarily terminal but it must be difficult to keep a clear head when it's the Masters up for grabs and you've been in control since Thursday.

McIlroy bogeyed the 11th and then four-putted the short 12th to plummet to five under. He also found the creek with his drive on 13.

"Your brain becomes like guacamole," said BBC golf commentator Peter Allis.

BBC colleague Wayne Grady, the 1990 US PGA champion, added: "Unless you've experienced this, you've no idea. Your brain is mush, you don't believe your arms are part of your own body."

Plenty of pundits this week had backed McIlroy to win the Masters, at least at some point in his career.

The Augusta crowd certainly took the 21-year-old to their hearts, referring to him simply as "Rory". Only the special ones - Tiger, Seve, Phil - are known by a single name.

Some very good players over the years have failed to win the Masters but these sorts of chances don't come along every day.

"I will get over it," McIlroy insisted, "and I'll be stronger because of it. I'll have plenty more chances. I know that. Hopefully it'll build a little bit of character in me as well."

Still, his last-round 80 will be stored up with the second-round 80 he carded when leading the Open at St Andrews last July.

Three of the last four majors have now seen players with a three-shot lead or more going into the final round blow up - Dustin Johnson carded 82 at the US Open and Nick Watney took 81 at the USPGA.

McIlroy's misfortune, though, was Schwartzel's gain.

Before the 26-year-old South African emerged from the pack on an firecracker of an evening at Augusta, it looked like Tiger Woods was about to step into the breach and write his own remarkable story.

Woods, written off by many after his well-documented personal problems not to mention his recent struggles bedding down a new swing, was inspired by the Augusta course where he has won four Green Jackets.

Seven back at the start of the day, the 14-time major champion ignited a series of explosive roars from the crowd as he marched around the front nine in 31 strokes.

Each of his five birdies was greeted by a bigger bellow from a home gallery desperate for the old champion to see off the foreigners crawling all over the leaderboard.

But when the former world number one tip-toed into the lion's den of Amen Corner he was bitten, three-putting the short 12th for a bogey and making a mess of the long 13th to squander at least a birdie chance. Patrons scurried off before he had putted out, thinking the unthinkable was over.

But as a wounded McIlroy limped off the 10th green just after 5pm local time, Woods was teeing off down the adjacent 15th, the start of a couple of crazy hours.

And he re-energised his gallery with a stunning second over the water to the green, drawing prolonged thunder from spectators as the ball landed five feet from the pin. An eagle now and Woods would be leading the Masters.

As he made his way to the green, word filtered through to the crowd that McIlroy had made a triple bogey. The buzz of disbelief and then expectation for their hero crackled along the ropes.

Woods missed the short eagle putt to the collective groans of thousands, but he sent the vast throng at the short 16th into delirium with a tee shot that curled into the back left flag to about six feet. "Still the best in the world," said one man, at least 20 times.

"This is unreal," cried another. "How can you not love golf?" The patrons packed in around the green and on the hill on the other side of the pond fell silent, those at the back straining for a view, as Woods settled over his putt.

Stroking the ball through the dappled evening shade cast by the tall pines surrounding the green, Woods began to step away in celebration, fist primed to pump, the fans ready to unleash an even greater roar than when he chipped in from off the green on his way to winning in 2005.

But the putt stayed out. Woods and his faithful agonised. Still 10 under.

Striding off the 17th tee after smashing a good drive, his chest out, face slick with sweat, the familiar red Sunday shirt standing out against the vivid green grass and the tournament still on the line, the old memories of Woods in his pomp were rekindled.

But that was as close as he would get.

The leaderboard was changing fast, the plot twisting and turning, as Schwartzel, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera, KJ Choi and Bo Van Pelt all flirted with the top.

Incendiary-like roars were going off left and right as putts dropped but patrons on other holes, with no on-course radios to help, had to play a game of guesswork, trying to match the geography and tenor of a cheer to a certain player and the magnitude of the roar to a score. The people manning the giant on-course leaderboards teased us and toyed with us as we waited for them to change the numbers by a player's name.

When Scott generated his own thunderous roar with a birdie on 16 following a stunning tee shot to add to his birdie on 14, he edged to 12 under. And it looked as if the winner had finally made himself known, giving Australia its first Masters champion in the process and banishing memories of Greg Norman's catalogue of near-misses.

But Scott stalled on 12 under and Schwartzel, playing beautifully behind him, edged alongside and then past him on the 17th.

Charl Schwartzel dons the Green Jacket. Photo: AFPSchwartzel dons the Green Jacket. Photo: AFP

"There's so many roars that go on around Augusta, especially the back nine," said Schwartzel. "It echoes through those trees. There's always a roar. Every single hole you walk down, someone has done something.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking at the leaderboard."

With Scott and fellow Australian Day now leading in the clubhouse at 12 under, the slender South African took a one-shot lead up the last.

And Schwartzel, who had been inspired by best friend Louis Oosthuizen's Open win and who had enjoyed an Augusta tutorial from six-time winner Jack Nicklaus, held firm to seal the win with a final birdie putt on 18.

"I've seen it so many times sitting at home, guys walking up the 18th," said Schwartzel.
"Just walking up it was such a special feeling. I only had a one-shot lead, so you don't want to get too excited about it, you've still got to win the golf tournament, but it just really felt good."

Becoming only the third South African Masters winner after three-time champion Gary Player and 2008 victor Trevor Immelman, Schwartzel, a six-time Tour winner ranked 29th in the world at the start of the week and now up to 11th, was amazed to have won a Green Jacket before mentor and countryman Ernie Els, who was second in 2000 and 2004.

As for the beleaguered McIlroy, he finished in the last group to sympathetic applause.

"Golf is a really funny game," said a sympathetic Schwartzel. "One moment you're on top of it and the next it bites you. He (McIlroy) is such a phenomenal player. He'll win one."

As Rory regroups, Charl can bask in the knowledge that he will forever be a Masters champion. And the winner of one of the best Masters for a long time.


  • Comment number 1.

    One of the most exciting final days ever: leader meltdown, Tiger back, maybe 10 players still in with a chance in the last couple of hours - and a worthy winner who seized the moment. Slight dampener with Rory's nightmare (I didn't see that coming, I must admit) but still, amazing stuff.

  • Comment number 2.

    Congrats to a worthy winner. He held his nerve to come out on top. I'm sure young Rory will come out stronger from his nightmare. Been said before, I know, but any sport or game at this level requires very strong mental discipline, and not just skill.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a final day ! It had everything, compulsive viewing for 5 hours solid - was Tiger about to confound his critics, could Europe provide a winner, be it McIlroy, Donald or to a lesser degree Westwood, could an Aussie finally break their duck, but no, through it all a Saffer comes up trumps, playing magnificent golf - huge off the tee, superb around the greens (two in from off the putting surface) and nerves of steel coming up the stretch, a thoroughly deserved first Green Jacket. Roll on next years drama !!

  • Comment number 4.

    Rob Hodgetts | 03:29 UK time, Sunday, 10 April 2011

    Golf could be set for a changing of the guard at Augusta on Sunday.

    To McIlroy's generation, Woods is the icon, the man they watched as kids, the man who changed the sport. They could be about to get their own icon.

    Augusta is gearing up to crown a new young master on Sunday night.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great to see woods fail, the guy still cant string 4 good rounds togather. This week it was his putting. He will never be the greatest ever as hes not even near beating the greatest ever jacks 18 major record.

    Plus the way he conducted himself in that interview was shocking, Rory had an actual excuse to be unlikable in his final round interview, yet was very well mannered.

    Woods gave agressive one word answers, even though he played the round of his life(actually drove the ball straight for once in his life).

    Anyone who supports tiger woods needs their head checking...

  • Comment number 6.

    I must admit, after his front nine, I thought Woods was going to win it, though McIlroy still had the lead. It would have been quite a story and who knows what would have happened if he had made that Eagle putt.

    As for Rory, he was doing alright until the disaster at the 10th. I've no doubt that he will come back stronger and I think his mature interview showed that.

    However, Schwarzel made some incredible shots, such as his Birdie on the 1st and his brilliant Eagle on the third. And then to go and Birdie the last 4 holes to win it. My hat goes off to the guy and I must admit I did cheer when his Birdie went in at the last. It was such a dramatic day with many twists and turns, one of the best final days ever.

  • Comment number 7.

    RE 4

    I think that the key word in the article was "could". And Augusta did have a new champion last night. What's the issue?

    Did you predict that McIlroy would collapse, so much that he would card an 80?

  • Comment number 8.

    Such a shame to see Rory's game fell apart on the back 9 - well 10th actually! - having played some amazing golf top go into last round 4 shots clear.
    However he's too talented a player not to win majors but maybe he should have stuck to his original game plan and he will learn form this - albeit painfully.
    The battle for the title was incredible and when it became clear that Mcilroy wasn't going to win I hoped that Luke Donald might do it however the back nine was full of so many twists and turns that it turned out to be one of the most exciting Masters for a long time (maybe Norman's meltdown against Faldo).
    Whilst Woods played some remarkable irons spearing into the flagstick one of his most potent weapons over the years let him down.
    He missed some - for him - pretty routine putts which was ultimately his undoing.
    The Great British charge didn't materialise as the press were prediciting (or hoping) which was a shame.
    But full credit to Donald.
    This was a Masters for the history books and it remains to be seen whether, in Charl Schwartzel, we have a player who will win yet further Majors or be a one major wonder.

  • Comment number 9.

    Anyone who supports tiger woods needs their head checking...


    I was cheering for Woods, he ignited the day, and everyone else responded. I watch sports for competition, not public relations. None of us would be able to walk a day in Tiger's shoes and not crack

  • Comment number 10.

    Can I publically apologise to Rory McIlroy. I got in and turned the TV on with him on the 10th tee, so it's obviously my fault that it went wrong for him from there.

    You do wonder what would have happened had that tee shot been a couple of yards further right and just skirted the trees rather than hitting them and disappearing left. Had Rory managed to stay at -11 until the 13th then the pressure would have mounted on those behind (especially as you'd expect him to pick up at least one stroke on 13 or 15). I don't think we'd have seen Schwartzel get to -14 in those circumstances (although he played exceptionally well over the closing few holes to do so).

  • Comment number 11.

    A real shame to see Rory McIlroy self-destruct as he did. He is clearly a fine golfer and his time will undoubtedly come. His mature approach will stand him in good stead for the days to come.

    The real frustration of an otherwise fascinating and brilliantly presented day was having to watch Chris Evans boast at the beginning of McIlory's round that "this could all be over by the ninth", and that he couldn't wait for the party. His "I'm on a jolly" appearance, and nonseniscal remarks only serve to irritate licence fee payers. We have to wonder why the BBC sends ex-celebs - who clearly know nothing about the sport they are covering - across the world to do so. Ask any golf fan if they want Chris Evans (or any other celebrity) presenting a golf show and they would say emphatically "no"! There are some brilliant commentators and experts in each field, let's just use them. BBC, please think again about what the viewer / listener genuinely wants, and not who will get you the most publicity.

  • Comment number 12.

    Stayed up way past my usual bedtime to see a fellow Saffer do the business, and a great moment for Charl. I really hope that it is his achievements that are most remembered from this year's Masters.

    Shooting 66 in a final round in Augusta. Birdies on the final four holes, especially knowing he had to pick up shots. Overall, a nerveless round, he missed nothing from within ten feet in his ten straight pars from 5-14, and book-ended his day with some of the best golf you will ever see.

    At the same time, I feel very much for McIlroy. You don't like to see people lose tournaments in that way, but the story yesterday was Schwartzel brilliantly grabbing an opportunity when three or four others would have been worthy winners.

  • Comment number 13.

    froch carl @ 5

    "Great to see Woods fail"

    And great to see McIlroy 'fail' - did you clock the way his shirt was hanging out of his pants the whole round? Total slob.

    Or alternatively one could, as a golf fan, appreciate golf over stuff like that. Could appreciate the spectacle of the greatest player of the modern game (the icon, the legend that is TW) making a thrilling run for the jacket. And could feel for an exciting and very talented and rather special young player (RM) abjectly folding under pressure on this occasion (but hopefully not next time).

    Couldn't one?

  • Comment number 14.

    What great golf and riveting viewing, even though I had cash on McIlroy! One issue with the article though - Schwarzel "scrapped" his way up the leaderboard? Very harsh!! He chipped in at the first and eagled the 3rd from miles out! He also birdied the last four to bring it home. Absolute class, nothing scrappy about it.

  • Comment number 15.

    You wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy would you. I couldn't bear to watch it live but I was almost in tears reading his round unravelling on the BBC live text.

    When I was a 28 handicap playing once a week, the dreaded demons used to get to me on the 1st tee, so I cannot even begin to imagine what was going through his mind from the 10th tee onwards. To be fair, I think that even if he'd managed to keep his game together with pars on 10, 11 & 12, Schwartzel's burst would have been good enough for he to take the title irrespective of what Rory could have done on the back nine.

    I do however think that Rory's game and mental strength are solid enough for him to take the positives from three good days, learn from his mistakes and get over this. From what I've seen, this final round experience may well make, rather than break the man...

  • Comment number 16.

    No Saga mix i "couldnt one"

    Woods usually is woeful off the tee, and often relies on his seve esque scrambling and mental strength to win a major. But although this week shows his self belief is still there to some extent, he still cant shoot 4 good rounds.

    Plus ,a nd the main point is, people do not fear his aura, which is what he thrives on. 3/4 years ago the leaders would have crumbled to his charge, but they didnt give one hoot, played their game and in the end he was 4 shots off.

    His interview after was embarrasing, even Ken brown questioned it. bare in min d woods shot the round of his life.

    Yet rory 14 years yuonger, and had an actual reason to do a seething interview was very likable and conducted himself as a true officer and gentlemen.

    Rory will come again, whereas as woods days are getting numbered...each time he fails it slowly chips way at his self beliedf his father ingrained him at 2 years old.

    And its great to see his failings...

  • Comment number 17.

    What a great finale. It had everything! i was backing tiger but u have to say McIlory did not deserve that back nine horror show. But we have all been there ( granted i was only playing the video game). Anyway he is still so young and will win multiple majors! and Tiger...... what a guy! If he had putted that eagle it would have been game on. I hope this springs him back into action. The guy is a legend.

    And Schwartzel....worthy champion! kept his head cool when everyone lost the plot. I had a feeling he would do it when they were round the front nine because he was one of the last players coming through. The confidence to sink tht birdie putt on the 18th said it all. Last nitght was the most exciting round of golf i have
    ever seen! terrific stuff.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ah the curse of BBC coverage. Sadly Rory bottled it like an English footballer or Scottish tennis player. He's more talented than either though and should be back... hopefully to win multiple majors.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rory is still a very young man and will bounce back to win at some point in the future. It will take time for him to recover but it will make him stronger and a better golfer in the long run.

    I have to say BBC that meltdown does sound rather negative for somebody who played so well for most of the tournament.

    Congratultations to Schwartzel - its nice to see somebody different win for a change.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well done Schwartzel you a true champ!!!!!

    As for the game what a finish to Augusta and the back nine. He played well all week and really deserved the win!!!!!

    As for Ian Poulter - remains an idiot always has been always will be, time to shut that mouth of yours the only one who keeps looking like a complete twit!!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    froch carl @ 16

    Well we'll see how Woods fares over the next few years. I'm a fan (get a sneaky inkling you aren't) and so I hope to see more great golf from him and some more big tournament wins. Not a certainty by any means; the magic is still there - this tournament showed that beyond a shadow of a doubt - but the consistency isn't and nor is the remorseless holing out from inside 10 feet. I do think he still has plenty in the tank but, like I say, we will see.

    And yes - sure - Rory's greenside media performance was way more admirable and well mannered than Tiger's (which was neither of those things) but, you know, strange old fruit that I am, I'm more into the golf than the interviews.

    Bet Rory is too. Bet he doesn't want a career known mainly for his spectacularly charming greenside interviews. Wouldn't surprise me in fact - wouldn't surprise me one iota - if he'd rather win majors. Okay perhaps nothing like TW's 14 and (maybe) counting, but at least one or two.

    Do you reckon?

  • Comment number 22.

    I've become a lifelong fan of Rory To meet failure on that stage in front of the whole world with such grace and equanimity acknowledging the fans with a smile as he approached he 18th knowing he had no chance regardless of how he felt inside was inspirational and then to answer the interviewer graciously should be taught in schools. Unlike Woods who was rude and dismissive -- totally unacceptable

  • Comment number 23.

    A bit biased, but thrilled that Charl Schwartzel put the round of his life together when it mattered most. In saying that, I feel for McIlroy. His only problem in my opinion, is putting four solid rounds together. He’s only a youngster though, and that will come with time. Class is always permanent.

  • Comment number 24.

    bare in min d woods shot the round of his life.


    You haven't seen many rounds of golf from Tiger Woods, have you?

  • Comment number 25.


    Completely agree. Evans' comment that: "he had met Rory on Saturday night and they had a piano waiting to be flown in for the celebration..." truly shocked me. As a 21 year old trying to win his first major, what on earth is McIlroy doing entertaining washed up, out-for-the-jolly celebrities? It makes you wonder what McIlroy's management team are being paid to do. His focus should have been on the challenge to come, not listening to the non-sensical babblings of someone who couldn't care less about his future success/demise.

    Rory will be back.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.


    Yes, but it's possible to do both, as Watson, Nicklaus, Player, Norman have proved. Woods is only pleasant when he has won. Give me any justification for that interview last night other than being a spoiled brat who knew he had blown it? Tough luck Tiger, I hope he never wins another. He doesn't deserve Nicklaus' crown. There is more to sport than finishing first.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fact is Rob, The Masters was won by Schwartzel, not lost by Rory.
    Sure Rory cost himself a high finish with his shots dropped from the tenth on, but a two under back nine would have yielded just a second place finish.
    If the damage was done, it was with a 5 - 5 start instead of the 4 - 4 start he'd've hoped for, and short putts missed on 4 and five didn't help.
    This should go down as one of the most thrilling Majors in history, but The Masters that Charl Schwartzel won. Fantastic golf.

  • Comment number 29.

    i agree flimflammer.

    Woods is talented, but not as naturally talented as the likes of jack nickalaus, who had started gold alot later than woods and werent brainwashed by his father.

    Fact is he is extremely unlikable, what he gets to off the course is up to him, but on the course the morose faced man is horrible to watch.

    If hes not spraying his ball into the bushes, you can sure expect he will throw his club into it. His swearing, spitting is atrotious for someone getting paid millions to be a "good role model".

    I still maintain he wont topple the goat jack nickalaus, and put mon ey on him ne ver winning another major agaIN.

    Roger federer is a true role model.

  • Comment number 30.

    Surely poster 29 this is not about Tiger Woods but we are well aware of your dislike of the man, But well done to Charles schwartzel on a great finish to win the Masters. Your comment about Woods never winning another major im not too sure about that, still not playing to his best he still finished above My favourites Mickelson/Westwood and Coand would you say they are finished. Somehow i think not

  • Comment number 31.

    There is a changing of the guard in SA Golf.Ernie and Retief still complete but you wonder on the World stage whether the best days are now behind.The next platoon of Tim Clark,Rory Sabbatini and hopefully a resurgent Immelman play good golf and win the occasional tournament.How ever the new kids on the block are Schwartzel and Oosthuizen.
    Even though Louis strolled around St Andrews last year winning the Open the real talent,not diminishing Oosthuizen has been Charl.
    He now has a maturity that frustratingly has only recently been acquired.
    Yesterday he finished the tornament extremely well but recognition should be made ,particularly over the first 12 holes of the number of putts tha just stayed out,which could have given a different picture.
    When he needed to hole the putts due to the cavalry charge at the end he did.He wouldn't have done it 2 years ago.
    Someone suggests he maybe a one-major wonder.No chance .
    We are just about to see someone special from now on.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Woods, ....... not to mention his recent struggles bedding down a new swing"

    Great effort by Woods, considering his form in the run up, though to be honest his new swing is about the only thing he's had problems bedding...

    For once I was actually supporting him, his recent misdemeanors have actually made him more likeable as he now appears almost human.

  • Comment number 33.

    Great to Woods in the hunt yesterday! Golf's been boring to watch without a competitive Woods and I hope he can return to winning ways after yesterday's performance. I doubt he had it in him to make -14, but had he not made the bogey and made sure of that eagle, who knows what could have happened. Fate wasn't to be and perhaps a win for him would have masked the shortcomings that remain in his game!! But one writes him off at ones peril and Poulter must be full after eating that humble pie!!

  • Comment number 34.

    flimflammer @ 27

    He didn't 'blow it' (that was Rory) but look, I have no problem with 'spoilt brat' for Woods - it's an accurate description. He's clearly not a particularly balanced individual. Flawed person, very flawed, no question about it (although an appreciation of his background and formative years, and of what it must be like to be a media icon from age nothing, should allow you to cut him a little slack on all of that) - but does this make me NOT want to see one of the most thrilling sporting talents there's ever been continue to fulfil itself? No. For me, his five hours or so of on-course effort easily outranks his 22 seconds of (non) effort with a post-round greenside interview.

    I'm a golf fan, see.

  • Comment number 35.

    The thing with Woods is that even his poor rounds are replayed by the television coverage - no other player on the circuit is as analysed and observed as Woods. Woods will not be the only golfer to have little hissy fits when things aren't going his way.

    I'm not particularly fond of it, but to be honest, it's a common trait you see in a lot of people, so I'm not really going to get on some silly moral high horse about it.

  • Comment number 36.

    That was a spectacularily grumpy interview by Tiger yesterday. He really needs to learn some manners.

  • Comment number 37.

    When McIlroy dropped away I fancied Schwartzel would be the one to come through, but after Adam Scott's tee shot at 16 I thought he had it...........and at last, all that potential would finally be reality. But the exceptional finish Schwartzel gave us was a worthy finish to a fantastic final round. Scott must be gutted, he did what was asked of him and still came up short.

    My only hope is that Rory doesn't follow in Adam Scott's footsteps.

  • Comment number 38.

    I was really pleased for this fella after I saw his reaction to that brilliant (but a bit lucky) pitch in. He started to celebrate like it was something he does all the time, then laughed at his caddie and just enjoyed the good fortune. I reckon someone who is grounded and a bit self-deprecating (as Charl seems to be) deserves his success when he plays a brilliant last round. Well done!


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