2012 Masters preview: Charl Schwartzel
Charl Schwartzel didn’t realize he closed the 2011 Masters Tournament with four consecutive birdies to win – no player had ever done that before at Augusta.
He had bigger things on his mind.
“When that putt disappeared on 18, honestly the last thing that went through my mind is that I made my fourth straight birdie,” he said. “It was, I just won the green jacket.”
Previously, the best any champion had done was birdie the final two holes in the final round. The furious finish gave Schwartzel 6-under-par 66 – the lowest final round by a winner since Nick Faldo’s 65 in 1989. Schwartzel finished at 14-under 274 for a two-shot victory over Australians Adam Scott (67 in the final round) and Masters rookie Jason Day (68).
The defending Masters champion returned to Augusta National Golf Club not as one of this year’s favorites. Instead, all eyes are on players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald.
Nicklaus, Faldo, Woods. They are the only men to defend the Masters championship. But how Schwartzel won the Masters in a way that never was done before, he should be considered to have a legitimate chance of accomplishing what only those three men named earlier have done.
Schwartzel became the third South African to win, joining Gary Player and Trevor Immelman. Schwartzel also finished T9 at the 2011 US Open, and had 10 top-25 finishes in 15 starts.
Country: South Africa.
World ranking: 7.
Majors: Masters (2011).
WagerWeb.com odds to win Masters: +4000
Best Masters moment: Becoming the first player to finish with four birdies to win the Masters.
Worst Masters moment: Learning that Augusta National won’t let him do the cooking at the Champions Dinner.
Overview: He has not won since the Masters last year, though Schwartzel returns to Augusta National on good form with close calls at the Honda Classic and at Doral. He is trying to join Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02) as the only players to win back-to-back at the Masters.
MASTERS PLAYER RECORD
Scoring Avg: 70.63
Low Round: 66
High Round: 76
Rounds Under Par: 5
Year Place Score Round Money
1 2 3 4
2011 1 -14 69 71 68 66 $ 1,440,000
2010 30 +3 69 76 72 74 $ 45,563