Schwartzing Matilda; Charl has the Ozzies dancing to his tune
It was more like the ‘Birdie song’ rather than Matilda that the Augsuta crowd could have been heard humming on the 18th green on Sunday. Charl Schwartzel the 26 year old South African shot a supreme 66 including four birdies on the last 4 holes to ensure the Augusta tailor was trimming up a jacket in Schwartzel’s size and South African colours. Schwartzel’s dad and golf teacher George was probably a young boy when Gary Player first won at Augusta and it is fitting on the 50th anniversary of Player becoming the first non-American to win the Masters, the title returns to his homeland . Ironically in my last post I cited the ‘rise of the machines’ referring to sportsman who are so technically sound and competent they seem to rarely look flawed or in trouble. Having read a lot about Charl Schwartzel today it transpires his nickname on his farm as a child was… ‘the machine’! It seems his golf is following on a similar path with his uncomplicated swing and superb putting he really is one for the future.
Our man Dustin Johnson briefly showed his ability on round two, but along with a host of talented Americans he was well off the pace. From a betting point of view it was a frustrating Masters; Having backed Schwartzel twice on the PGA tour this year to no avail I had decided to discard him from my Masters reckoning and set my sights on some in form Americans. However the Ryder cup (and world rankings) probably showed us the current crop of Americans are far from unbeatable. It was actually 3 Australians who were hot on Schwartzel’s heels and Adam Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy played some superb golf to almost ensure that Georgia was flipped upside down into a Ozzy party-land. But it wasn’t to be, and whilst Tiger produced the front 9 of the tournament with a sublime eagle on the way to going out in 31 it was the ever impressive and controlled Schwartzel who triumphed, having to throw his putter into the lake after he finished to prevent a forest fire in Georgia!
As a big Luke Donald fan I loved his final 3 rounds, showing class and touch. His chip in at 18 was a super way to end his Masters tournament, but it was his post round interview that I liked more. When asked the question “I bet you’re wishing you put the ball in the lake on the 9th in the Par 3 tournament, might have given you more of a chance this week” (eluding to the fact no player has ever won the Par 3 competition on Wednesday and gone on to win the Masters.) Donald replied “No definitely not I will be coming back next year looking to do the double!” Good lad! Donald has also said of Mcllroy “he is the brightest young star in golf” which judging on the first 3 rounds is a sure thing. You do have to feel for Rory. If you compare his and Schwartzel’s first two holes it forecasted what was to come. Rory starts bogey-bogey having driven into a fairway bunker and probably selected the wrong club when plotting his rescue. In contrast Schwartzel chips in from way off the green then pitches in for eagle at 2. It was a 5 shot swing between those two players after only two holes. As the commentator said after the pitch on the second hole “Charl buy a lottery ticket. It’s gonna be your day!”
As for the cycling – The Paris Roubaix saw Fabian Cancellara man marked out of the race and an excellent ride from Garmin’s Johan Van Summeren meant that when Cancellara tried to bridge the gap it was too big and he had to settle for second. Tactics have cost Cancellara dear over past few weeks and I would expect a bold showing from him somewhere else this year as I can imagine he will be pretty angry inside having no classic to show for his rides in Milan, Flanders and Roubaix. I also expect a big Tour De France for his new Luxembourg based Leopard team who are spearheaded by the Schleck brothers. Watch this space.
As the weeks sport is wrapped up and I sit watching Rory Mcllroy’s capitulation again on the Masters re-runs there is a tinge of disappointment for British sport. He will be back and in terms of golf the british charge is stronger than ever. I can’t leave however without mentioning Shane Watson’s outrageous innings today vs Bangladesh ; 185 n.o. off 96 balls with 15 sixes and 15 fours! Maybe him and Schwartzel aren’t so different; they see the ball and hit it exactly where they want – It turns out being good isn’t that complicated!