IT WAS heartbreaking for Rory McIlroy, but Charl Schwartzel did not put a foot wrong in a magnificent final round to win this year’s Masters on Sunday night.
From an incredible birdie on the first hole to finishing with four straight birdies, it was the perfect way for the 26-year-old to capture his first Major.
I have always liked the look of Schwartzel. He has a beautiful swing and is one of a clutch of South Africans with great technique who have broken through onto the world stage.
Trevor Immelman was the first, winning the Masters himself in 2008, then Louis Ooisthuizen rose to prominence by winning the Open last year at St Andrews. Now Schwartzel has joined them.
It might easily have been McIlroy, who led the field by four shots after three rounds. Instead he endured the most demoralising of days, and it will be a very tall order for him to get over. He might have been even further ahead. Had a few more of Rory’s putts in rounds two and three gone in, he could have had an eight-shot advantage to take into the final round.
Luckily he is still only 21, and has shown resilience already in his career, bouncing back from the disappointment of last year’s Open, where he started so well but fell away. He also has the right kind of personality to take it in his stride.
Schwartzel wasn’t the only one to shine, though: Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day both enjoyed great weekends, as did Tiger Woods.
Tiger is the real deal once again. He was magnificent on Sunday, eagling the eighth hole, and you could see that three-putt at the 12th hurt. He may not have won this time, but he’s back.