Total Pageviews

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Schwartzel wins, Woods dazzles and McIlroy implodes in compelling Masters

The 2011 Masters was the best I've ever witnessed. Not just for the standard of golf or quality of field but because it had everything. Drama, tension, excitement, nerves, skill, a talented youngster crumbling under the pressure and a wounded American fighting his way back. We also had a surprise winner but not an undeserved one.

For me the Masters has always been a truly special event, and this year was no exception. We went into the tournament with most of the field capable of winning, and there were still 10 names who could be wearing that green jacket going onto the back nine on Sunday.

It ended up on Charl Schwartzel's shoulders, a 26-year-old South African, who finished on -14 but that doesn't even begin to tell the story.

Charl Schwartzel shows his euphoria after claiming by far the biggest win of his career

Going into the final day it was Rory McIlroy's to lose, and boy did he lose it. It took just one hole for his overnight four shot lead to be halved as Schwartzel brilliantly chipped in for birdie while McIlroy bogeyed. And then on the second Schwartzel produced perhaps shot of the tournament to eagle and tie the lead, it was the moment were you sensed it was his day.

Tiger eagled eight, Scott, Day, Choi, Cabrera birdied several and Mcllroy bogeyed to leave the destiny of the green jacket in anyones hands. At one point there were six players tied at the top on -10 before Mcllroy's began his descent into free fall.

And then an Englishman came into contention in the form of Luke Donald. Some immaculate putting and precise iron play put Donald just two shots off the pace before it all went wrong at twelve when he put his tee shot in the water and double bogeyed.

But he fought back resiliently, birdying 15, 16 and chipping in for a three at the last to give himself a glimmer of hope.

It looked to be heading for a tight finish with Scott, Day and Schwartzel fighting it out for the coveted prize before Schwartzel produced some of the best golf of the day. He superbly birdied 15, 16, 17 and 18 and no-one had an answer.

He walked onto the final green with every young golfer's dream; a 20 foot putt to win the Masters. He duly rolled it in to become the champion and pick up a cheque of $1.4million.

It was a great shame for McIlroy. He has such talent, such guts but ultimately he wasn't ready for this moment. He played some tremendous, breathtaking golf in the first three days but the thought of becoming a major champion was too much for him.

There is no doubt in my mind that he'll go onto win majors, he's too good not too, and he'll only learn from this experience. It all began to go wrong on ten when his drive smashed into a tree just metres ahead and cannoned 100 yards left. Two three putts followed from within 12 feet and the chance of becoming a major champion had gone, for now.

Mcllroy cuts a lonely figure as his drive on ten goes hundred yards left and proves to be the beginning of his downfall

Another home player to just miss out, albeit in an entirely different manner, was Luke Donald. The Englishman was consistent throughout and did well to finish where he did considering he was three over after 13 holes on the first day.

It's a mystery to me why he hasn't won more. In my opinion Donald is currently the best putter in the game, he rarely misses from inside six feet. His swing is silky smooth and his touch around the greens in up there with the best. What Donald lacks, though, is length, a key part of the modern game.

He showed plenty of guts and determination on the final day at Augusta. After going in the water at 12 he looked pretty much out but birdies at 13, 15 and 16 displayed such resilience that has been lacking from his game. Donald is another Brit that I feel will not have to wait long for a major.

Luke Donald again showed his class with four consistent rounds of golf that came up just short

As for Woods, he'll be disappointed not to win but he can take heart and encouragement from a return to form. He produced flashes of genius, moments of magic but inconsistency proved to be his downfall. The old Woods was back for periods.

He displayed some stunning golf, his second shots to eight and fifteen were spectacular, but he had his swagger back. The confidence and arrogance returned which made Tiger such a feared player to begin with. This performance should give him belief and confidence that he is coming back to some form and that should be a major worry to every other player.

Tiger shows some emotion after holing an eagle putt on eight to get into a share of the lead

The 2011 Masters will go down as one of the best in history and it will never be forgotten by me. The last day provided us with entertainment galore, it gripped millions of people worldwide and showed to the planet why golf  can be such a thrilling yet nail biting sport.

No comments:

Post a Comment