Schwartzel wins the Masters after a wild day

By Associated PressApril 11, 2011, 6:30 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Charl Schwartzel should've known it was going to be a very good day at the very first hole.

After spraying his second shot far right of the green, he pulled out a 6-iron, chipped the ball off a patch of trampled-down grass, and watched it roll and roll and roll - right in the cup for an improbable birdie.

Think that was unexpected? The South African was just getting warmed up. He drilled his tee shot at No. 3 into the middle of the fairway, then holed out with a wedge from 114 yards for eagle.

Not a bad start.

It didn't even compare to the finish Sunday.

Schwartzel became the first champion in Masters history to close with four straight birdies, the capper to a final round like no other at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods charged. Rory McIlroy collapsed. And just about everyone else seemed to have a chance to win on the back nine.

'There's so many roars that go on around Augusta,' Schwartzel said. 'It echoes through those trees. There's always a roar. Every single hole you walk down, someone has done something.'

Especially on this day.

At one point or another, eight different players had at least a share of the lead. The list included Woods, making a fist-pumping, swaggering charge up the board. And Adam Scott, deftly carving up the greens with that long putter of his. And Jason Day, a Masters rookie who played like he owns the place. And Geoff Ogilvy, ripping off five birdies in a row on the back side. And Luke Donald, hitting the flag stick with a shot off one leg, then chipping in from the front of the green with his final swing.

The top six finishers each posted scores in the 60s on a steamy spring day.

The hottest one of all was a 26-year-old carrying on South Africa's proud golf tradition, winning on the 50th anniversary of countryman Gary Player becoming the first international winner at the Masters.

'I am absolutely delighted for Charl and South Africa. Congratulations and very well done to him. That is how you finish like a champion!' Player said on Twitter.

One by one, all the challengers for the green jacket fell aside as Schwartzel birdied 15 ... and 16 ... and 17 ... and, finally, 18 - even though all he needed at that point was an easy little two-putt to win.

'You know, I always thought if there was one (major) that I would win, it would be this one,' Schwartzel said. 'This is the sort of golf course that suits my eye.'

He was sure dialed in on those last four holes.

Schwartzel got up-and-down from behind the 15th green for birdie to briefly tie for the lead, only to have Scott stuff his tee shot within 2 feet up ahead on the par-3 16th. Schwartzel answered with a 15-foot birdie to catch Scott atop the leaderboard again.

Then came the pivotal 17th, where Scott hit into a pair of bunkers and had to work hard just to make par. Schwartzel came along next and was dead solid perfect with his first two shots, setting up a 10-footer for birdie. When it dropped, he had the lead all to himself for the first time all day.

He finished it off in style, curling a putt from 20 feet into the side of the cup for a 6-under 66, the best closing round at the Masters in 22 years. Schwartzel finished two strokes ahead of Scott and Day, a pair of Aussies who valiantly bid to be the first player from Down Under to win the green jacket.

Scott closed with a 67. Day shot 68. Neither score was good enough to beat Schwartzel's 14-under 274.

'I couldn't do any more than what I just did,' Day said. 'Me and Adam played wonderful golf out there today, but Charl played even better.'

Schwartzel had played in only one previous Masters - he tied for 30th a year ago - but he got a very helpful tutorial from a guy who's won more green jackets than anyone.

After finagling a lunch with six-time winner Jack Nicklaus at a charity function, he deftly broke the ice with one of their shared interests beyond the golf course.

'I've never met Jack. I was really excited,' Schwartzel recalled. 'I knew he sort of liked hunting a little bit. That's the way I got the conversation going, just by talking about hunting.'

Of course, the talk soon turned to Augusta National.

And, boy, did the Golden Bear open up.

'I'm thinking it's going to be just a vaguely quick little thing, and he actually took the time to take me through all 18 holes,' Schwartzel said. 'The way he used to think around Augusta. The way he used to play it, which flags he used to attack.'

Schwartzel sure put those lessons to good use Sunday. It was the sort of finishing kick that Nicklaus turned in a quarter-century ago for the last of his Masters wins.

For a while, Woods was the one rekindling memories of '86. Mired in the longest winless streak of his career and still tarnished by an embarrassing sex scandal, he ripped through the front nine with a 5-under 31 that erased his daunting seven-shot deficit coming into the round.

He made the turn with four birdies and an eagle on his card, the place in an uproar as they pondered the possibilities going to the decisive back nine.

Woods got through the 10th and the always-troublesome 11th with pars, setting himself to really attack the course through the heart of Amen Corner.

Instead, the course bit back.

After a long delay waiting to putt at the 12th, Woods missed a short one and took bogey. At the next hole, he wasted a perfect tee shot along the creek line and settled for par on a hole that played easier than any other all week.

The real backbreaker, though, came at the last of the par-5s. Woods gave himself a perfect look at the 15th with a tee shot to the top of the ridge, then jammed his approach within 5 feet of the cup for an eagle try that would've given him the outright lead.

The putt lipped out. He settled for birdie. And everyone sensed that Woods, playing several groups ahead of the other contenders, had squandered his final chance. He limped to the finish with three straight pars for a 67 that left him tied for fourth with Ogilvy and Donald, four shots behind the winner.

'I got off to a nice start there and posted 31,' Woods said. 'And then on the back nine, I could have capitalized some more.'

At least he didn't finish like McIlroy.

The seemingly unflappable 21-year-old from Northern Ireland was leading through each of the first three days, and went into the final round with a four-stroke edge on the field. Even after a shaky front nine, the youngster made the turn still one shot ahead.

Then he fell apart.

McIlroy yanked his tee shot at the 10th into the trees left of the fairway, the ball ricocheting to a spot between two of the club's famous cabins. He pitched out through the fairway, knocked his next shot over by the scoreboard left of the green, hit another tree trying to get on and wound up with a triple-bogey 7.

Three-putts at the next two holes finished him off, though his misery lasted right to the end. He drove into a creek, missed two more short putts and signed for an 80 - the worst final round by a 54-hole Masters leader since Ken Venturi in 1956.

'I just hit a poor tee shot on 10 and it unraveled from there,' McIlroy said. 'I just sort of lost it ... and I couldn't get it back.'

Schwartzel had it all the way.

From start to finish.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.