Schwartzel steamrollers opposition to win Masters

Riding a run of four successive birdies over the final four holes of Augusta National, Charl Schwartzel pulled off an extraordinary victory in one of the most thrilling Masters ever.

In becoming the third South African after Gary Player and Trevor Immelman to don the green jacket, he managed to do it 50 years to the day after Player became the first non-American to win the tournament.

His closing six-under-par 66 shut out by two strokes the attempts by the Australian duo of Adam Scott and Jason Day to become the first player from Down Under to win the Masters.

And it took extraordinary patience by Schwartzel as he endured a run of 10 consecutive pars as the lead ebbed and flowed about him before he was able to launch his final assault on the summit.

“I was getting tight coming down 15,” he admitted before the 2010 champion Phil Mickelson helped him into the green jacket.

“Adam was in front and Jason was making a move, and I needed to do something,” he said.

What he did was play the kind of nerveless golf which will win him many more tournaments, and surely many more majors.

And he kept it simple as an antidote to having to deal with the problems which struck so many of the contenders during the course of a final round.

He hit a six-iron in to the par-five 15th, setting up the first of his closing four birdies there, and then, with almost uncanny calmness, he managed to put his tee shot on the par-three 16th close enough for the next one.

With two par-fours left, Scott was one hole ahead of him and also on 12-under – but he was in trouble off the tee.

During that run of 10 pars, Schwartzel had been a little iffy off the tees, but there was nothing of that on 17 and 18, and his approaches were as secure as they ever have been, leaving himself with makeable – but not short – birdie putts.

That he drained both of them to first draw one clear and then two clear of Scott – and to keep off the charge by Day who closed with two birdies of his own on 17 and 18 – spoke volumes of his character.

The Aussies were the only ones who battled the pressure-cooker that is the final round of the Masters.

Rory McIlroy, who took a four-stroke lead over Schwartzel into the final round, shot a final-round 80. He was the leader when he made the turn, but he triple-bogeyed the 10th after a poor tee shot left his ball between two cabins, and he never recovered.

Tiger Woods made a thrilling charge, igniting the roars around the course which make the final day so exciting.

He turned in 31, and the rest of the players were left in no doubt as to what the crowds thought of the chances of a Tiger win, but when he bogeyed the par-three 12th in the heart of Amen Corner, his push for victory came unravelled.

There were no such problems for Schwartzel, who surfed the excitement and the noise home for a fabulous victory. “It was such an exciting day,” he said. “The atmosphere was incredible. There were so many roars.”

And, in the end, the roar for his birdie putt on 18 was as incredible as anything else he experienced all day.

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