Apr
10
2011
Just Another Manic Sunday: Schwartzel Shines at Augusta
By Conor Nagle under The Masters

Charl Schwartzel celebrates his eagle at the third hole during Sunday's final round

I’m not really sure what angle to take with all of this. It’s late and I feel completely drained after an absolutely unbelievable evening of golf.

I could  try to summarise things and take you all through the round, telling of how an explosive opening hour obliterated McIlroy’s lead and laid the foundations for one of golf’s most spectacular final round collapses. Not only that, but I could describe how, reeling as we all were by the spectacle of the youngster’s implosion–some more than others, mind. Wayne Grady actually broke down on air during the BBC’s coverage– we suddenly realised we were left with the most volatile major championship leaderboard in recent memory…

But there’s no point. You saw it. I saw it. So, I’m going to leave you with what few personalobservations have managed to emerge intact from the sensory overload of the last four hours:

  • Charl Shwartzel has just graduated from the ‘promising young player’ bracket with a four-birdie finish that must, surely, rank among the finest major-winning performances of all-time. No longer just a long-game specialist with an unpredictable touch around the greens, the South African’s performance this week marks him out as the possessor of a complete game cast in the mould of a multiple major-winner.
  • While “but he’ll bounce back from this, of course” became the suffix of choice for commentators and analysts alike in the evaluation of Rory McIlroy’s performance, the truth is that, in the short-term at least, he’s going to really struggle to recapture any semblance of his pre-Sunday form. In the same way that Schwartzel’s finish will enter the lore of the modern game, so too will the manner of the Northerner’s collapse. His putting was already a liability, even without its having to bear the weight of today’s psychological trauma. What the future holds for Rory is, at this point, anybody’s guess, but I’m nearly willing to bet that he’ll be spending it in the company of a new caddy. JP appeared nearly as disoriented today as his young employer.
  • With Jason Day proving his mettle with a gritty birdie on the last, Adam Scott finally contending for a major championship and Geoff Ogilvy sneaking in a run of five birdies on the back nine, the future of Australian golf looks very bright indeed. Scott, should he walk away with a major at some point in the near-future, could become the first player to win a major championship with a broomhandle putter… not that that’s got anything to do with anything.
  • A Tiger Woods victory, though it would have offered the Hollywood ending many were hoping for, wasn’t the conclusion that the game needed or deserved. Luke Donald, Jason Day, Adam Scott, even the champion Charl Schwartzel, all previously assailed for their perceived lack of desire or instability under pressure, performed wonderfully today when they felt that they had to. Victory for one of them, particularly after Woods succeeded in bullying his way to the summit of the leaderboard, is a victory for the health and competitiveness of the game. The future looks bright!
  • Spare a thought for Asian Amateur champion and Masters low amateur Hideki Matsuyama. He returns this week to his native Sendai to assist with the post-tsunami relief effort.

As usual, feel free to add your own in the comments thread below. What a day!

(photo Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Conor