2011 Masters: Charl Schwartzel a Worthy Champion

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIApril 10, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Charl Schwartzel of South Africa waves to the gallery after holing a shot for eagle on the third green during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

It will be easy for fans of golf to focus on stories not relating to Charl Schwartzel when telling the story of the 2011 Masters.

Does Tiger Woods' front-nine rally mean he's back? Does his back-nine struggle mean he's still far away from regaining his form?

His game is close. It would be surprising to me if he didn't win one of 2011's remaining three majors.

What about Rory McIlroy? Through 54 holes, it seemed like the final round would be nothing more than a victory lap. Instead, he struggled his way through a final-round 80.

McIlroy will be fine. He is the best of the current crop of young golfers. He will be 22 in May. By the time he turns 25, I think he will have at least two majors to his name.

But the focus today needs to be on Schwartzel.

On the 50-year anniversary of South African Gary Player becoming the first international player to win the Masters, fellow South African Charl Schwartzel became the third man from that country to win at Augusta.

Schwartzel shot a 68 on Saturday and bettered it with a 66 on Sunday. McIlroy could have shot a 71 on Sunday and not made a playoff.

Scwhartzel's final round started with a bang and finished with a bang. But the middle section is what won him the tournament. He parred every hole between five and 14, where so many other Masters have been lost.

In doing that, he put himself in position to have a fantastic finish, as he made a birdie on 15, 16, 17 and 18.

He also chipped in for birdie on the first hole, and holed his second shot on the third hole to make an eagle.

When that happened and McIlroy bogeyed the first hole, the four-shot lead he had to start the day was gone.

In a tournament with so many players in contention, it's easy to remember what the rest of the field did or didn't do.

Schwartzel was far from a household name at the beginning of the week. He was the least known of the golfers tied for second at the beginning of the final round.

Schwartzel won because he hit the shots when others didn't. He putted the best on Sunday, and the person who does that will almost always win the Masters. The person who putts the best will win almost any tournament.

This may be the first of several majors that Schwartzel will win. He may also be a one-hit wonder. It doesn't matter.

Regardless of what happens in the future, 2011's Masters needs to be remembered as a tournament that Schwartzel won, not one that other players lost.


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