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2011 Masters Recap: Rory & Tiger Falter, Charl Shines

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In a room full of headliners, the opening act got the last laugh.

In what was shaping up to be Tiger Woods’ grand re-ascension to the top of the golfing pedestal, it seemed as if someone forgot to inform both he and Charl Schwartzel. Make no mistake, Schwartzel, the 26 year-old South African wasn’t handed The Masters, he won it in historical fashion by birdieing the final four holes to win by a misleading two-strokes. Misleading in the sense that with only a few holes remaining, there were ten players that had a chance to reach up and grab golf’s ultimate prize. One of which was golf’s golden child turned repentant former hero, Tiger Woods.

Tiger finished in a tie for fourth, but had he been able to putt from within 4 feet and post 12-under I have my doubts that Schwartzel, Jason Day, or Adam Scott would’ve played with the carefree restraint that allowed them to make a late charge for the green jacket. To his credit, the former world number one and consensus most talented player in golf history, Tiger Woods had tempo and control of his swing for the first time in a long time and he made a charge on the front-nine that would make General Patton proud. He looked to be ever so close to returning to his old form, with one major caveat. The old Tiger seemingly never missed from within twelve feet, this version instead putted like a man twice his age. That said, simply presenting this tournament as a two-horse race does a tremendous disservice to the drama that played out on Sunday afternoon.

Heading into the final round, 21 year-old Rory McIlroy held a 4-stroke lead on his nearest competitors. His carefree attitude was being heralded from any talking head with a microphone. Jim Nantz went so far as to laud McIlroy for being the only player on the first tee without a swing coach by his side. McIlroy may not have needed a swing coach with him, but he would’ve been well served to have his mom close by as the cruel, unwavering golf gods decided that it was not Rory’s day. Instead of the coronation of golf’s next phenom, it played out as giving the keys to a Lamborghini to a 21-year old usually does… a heaping mess of twisted metal, bumps, bruises, and a shattered self-confidence that hopefully can be rebuilt and restored over time. Tough times don’t last, tough people do, but young Rory will need all of his toughness to overcome a complete implosion on the game’s greatest stage.

McIlroy used smoke and mirrors to put together a respectable one over par 37 on the front nine and headed to the 10th tee with the lead. Gone, however, was the four shot lead; instead he was leading by a single stroke over six hungry and seasoned professionals. Moments before he unleashed his drive on number 10, the announcer praised Rory for having the freest arms in a golf swing since Jack Nicklaus. Mere seconds later that same announced remarked: “well that certainly wasn’t very free.”  The ball traveled so far offline that it came to rest between two cabins on far left side of the hole. He paused a moment, wondering aloud: “Is that out-of-bounds?” It wasn’t, but it was in a spot that very few players, if any, have ever been, at least on Sunday during The Masters. From there, the misery began. Rory took a triple-bogey on the hole, following it up with a bogey, double-bogey 11th and 12th and his collapse was complete.

Rory McIlroy looking for his ball after his errant tee shot at the 10th

 

Rory’s painful demise opened Pandora’s Box. Nine players on the back nine found themselves at ten-under or better. At one point there was a six-way tie for the lead with Tiger Woods one back standing over a 4 foot putt for eagle on 15. As much of his tournament went, he was close, but not close enough. He missed the eagle and tapped in the birdie, taking him to ten-under. On 16 he hit a terrific tee shot that left him twelve or so fee for birdie… it wasn’t to be. He finished par-par and posted 10-under. Hoping it would be good enough for a playoff, but knowing that it wouldn’t be.

Soon after Tiger finished, seven-time PGA tour winner and 2006 US Open champion, Geoff Ogilvy, fresh off of five straight birdies on the back, also finished at 10-under. Not long after that, the world’s number three ranked player, Luke Donald, chipped in on 18 to post 10-under.

A pair of Australians, Jason Day and Adam Scott, were giving it their all in order to win the first green jacket for their country. Scott, a 30 year-old Aussie with a buttery smooth swing but historically without the putting game necessary to take the next step in his career was pouring it in from everywhere. His switch from a conventional to a long-putter seemed to be just what he needed to get his game untracked. He birdied fourteen to take the lead at 11-under. He then made a great par save on 15 followed by a birdie on the par-3 16th taking him to 12 under and in firm command of the tournament… or so it appeared. His countryman, Jason Day, at the young age of 23 closed his round in style, birdieing the last two holes to finish at 12-under, same as Scott.

A trio of steady veterans, two-time major winner Angel Cabrera, KJ Choi, and Bo Van Pelt were all sitting at 10-under going into 16. Somewhat unexpectedly, all fell back. Cabrera finished at 9-under and the other two at 8-under.

Then, out of nowhere, as the world was preparing for a two-man playoff to decide which Australian would be a national hero, a 26-year old seemingly unknown South African stole the show. No one, in the history of the tournament, not Jack in 86, not Tiger in 97, was able to do what Schwartzel did on Sunday, birdieing the final four holes in route to winning at Augusta. Schwartzel, although a longshot at the betting windows was anywhere between 100-1 and 250-1, showed that he isn’t a fluke. His swing is simple and solid, his nerves were unflappable and his smile enduring. While this was the first win for Charl on the PGA Tour, it certainly won’t be his last, and if he continues to develop, it won’t be his last green jacket either.

Discussion

2 Responses to “2011 Masters Recap: Rory & Tiger Falter, Charl Shines”

  1. Plus…..Jason Day’s wife is smoking hot…and from Twinsburg?

    Posted by Bobby Digital | April 15, 2011, 12:37 pm

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