From the hurried final hours of the 2011 Masters only the main themes continue to resonate. The details, at least to the majority of the golf public, have faded to background noise.
These are the facts. At 2:30 p.m. (ET) Charl Schwartzel teed off at Augusta National four strokes off the lead, chipped in from Washington Road at the first for birdie and produced the first of many Sunday roars at the third when his approach landed in the middle of the green, spun left and dropped into the hole for eagle to move him to 11 under and into a share of the lead.
Helped by overnight leader Rory McIlroy’s bogey at the first, Schwartzel closed the gap in 38 minutes. All told the South African played his first three holes of the final round in 3 under and his last four in 4 under, historic bookends that defy tradition.
“I watched Charl birdie 17 and thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Geoff Ogilvy said. “But that chip-in at the first (a 100-foot running 7-iron for Schwartzel), that’s more unlikely than the second shot at the third. That’s the hardest shot on the course almost. If it misses the hole it’s on the ninth tee almost. It’s a double bogey. It’s the most unbelievable shot.”
Largely lost to time and the fog of a frantic Sunday, however, is one of the most dramatic and crowded finishes in Masters history. Eight players from six different continents held at least a share of the lead on the back nine – McIlroy, Schwartzel, Ogilvy, Jason Day, Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi and Adam Scott.
Not surprising given the venerable course’s unique amphitheater is the clarity with which each of the “Sunday Eight” recalls the final nine holes. For those locked in the competitive quest it was the unique cacophony of Augusta National that kept time with Sunday’s manic changes.
“You can feel it,” Day recalled. “It’s funny man, when the roars go up the whole back nine is amazing. You’ll hear it over there, you’ll hear it from another side. You kind of know what’s going on from what the crowd does.”
For everyone else GolfChannel.com, has created a timeline from last year’s back nine that fittingly begins where it virtually ended for McIlroy.
4:50 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 10th hole clips a pine tree and ricochets between two cabins some 50 yards left of the 10th fairway. “Is there out of bounds over there?” McIlroy asks caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The Ulsterman, who rounded the front nine in 1-over 37 but was still a stroke clear of Schwartzel, Choi and Cabrera, is not out of bounds, but that doesn’t ease his pain.
4:57 p.m.: Scott rolls in a 30-footer for birdie at No. 11 to move to 10 under and join three other players tied for second place.
“Even right from the front nine you could tell what was going on because Tiger was 5 under through eight (holes) and then when Rory dropped his shots at the 10th hole, that’s when I was first in the tournament,” Scott said. “That’s the first time I had any kind of expectations all day.”
5:09 p.m.: McIlroy taps in for triple-bogey-7 at No. 10 to drop to 8 under, two strokes behind a large group tied at 10 under that includes Choi, Cabrera, Schwartzel and Scott. Ten players are within five shots.
5:14 p.m.: And then there were five. Woods misses a 4 ½-footer for eagle at the 15th hole and taps in for his birdie to join four other players tied for the lead at 10 under.
“I hit a good shot at 15. That was a nice little holdy 6-iron, a little softy. I think I had like 207 (yards), I took something off a 6 and just hit it up in the air,” Woods said.
5:20 p.m.: Choi bogeys the 12th hole after missing the green with his tee shot and narrows the list of leaders to a foursome at 10 under – Woods, Cabrera, Scott and Schwartzel.
“I hit a cut shot on No. 12. I aim to the left of the bunker and didn’t cut, it went straight or with a little bit of a draw and left of that bunker when you’re chipping is very difficult,” Choi said.
5:25 p.m.: Ogilvy makes his fourth consecutive birdie at the 15th hole to move to 9 under par after starting the day seven strokes back.
5:26 p.m.: Day joins the leaders at 10 under with a two-putt birdie at the 13th hole. At this point seven different players have had a share of the lead.
5:28 p.m.: Cabrera’s tee shot at No. 12 sails into the back bunker and the Argentine makes bogey to drop out of the lead.
“He knew the bogey at 12 was going to cost him,” Cabrera’s swing coach Charlie Epps said of his man’s 8-iron tee shot at No. 12. “He was always told by (Seve) Ballesteros to always hit it left of the pin and he just hit left too far.”
5:32 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 13th hole is pulled left and drops into a tributary to Rae’s Creek and leads to the iconic image of the young Ulsterman standing on the tee with his head buried in his grip.
“To be honest, one of the bad things I did, I just was trying to keep ahead of everyone else instead of maybe having a number in my head and say, ‘Right, I started the day at 12 under if I can get to 15 under,’ just have that as a target, and that's all you are thinking about,” McIlroy said. “That’s something that I've learned from and something that I’ve tried to put into practice now.”
5:33 p.m.: Ogilvy rolls in a short birdie putt at No. 16 to complete his run of five consecutive birdies and pulls into a share of the lead. Of the five players tied atop the leaderboard Schwartzel and Day began the day four shots back, Scott was five back and Woods and Ogilvy were a touchdown adrift.
“When I hit it close at 16 I didn’t see a leaderboard but I just assumed I’d be tied for the lead, but I knew there were a lot of guys,” Ogilvy said. “’I felt like that if I birdied one of these last three holes I really felt there’s a shot here.”
5:37 p.m.: Scott pulls clear of the pack with a 10-footer for birdie at the 14th hole. Nine players are now within two shots of the lead.
5:54 p.m.: Woods finishes with par at the 18th hole for a 10-under 278 total.
6 p.m.: Scott scrambles for par at the 15th hole after pushing his second shot into the gallery and holing an 8-footer to remain atop the pack. Day, who is paired with his fellow Australian, also makes par to stay one back.
6:10 p.m.: Schwartzel’s second shot at the 15th hole rolls through the green but he gets up and down for birdie to move to 11 under and momentarily tie Scott for the lead.
6:10 p.m.: Just seconds after Schwartzel putts out on 15, Scott taps in at the 16th for birdie to move to 12 under and back into the lead alone.
“After 16, honestly my thought was work hard for two pars,” Scott said. “Seventeen isn’t a hole you challenge very often and in my lifetime of watching the Masters I can’t really remember a lot of guys birdieing the last two holes. I have a lot of memories of bogeys on the last two holes.”
6:18 p.m.: With Scott in trouble left of the 17th fairway, Schwartzel rolls in an 18-footer at the 16th hole, his second consecutive birdie, to grab a share of the lead at 12 under.
6:24 p.m.: Day charges in a 30-footer at the 17th to move to 11 under and into second place, a shot behind Scott and Schwartzel.
6:34 p.m.: Schwartzel converts his 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole to move to 13 under and into the lead alone.
“I don’t know how many names fit on those leaderboards, but I only saw one name – Adam Scott,” Schwartzel said. “He was the guy who was leading. He was one (shot) ahead of me and then I played 15. I had an 8-footer for birdie and just before I made mine he made his putt on 16. I knew he was now two ahead. I needed to just be one behind, but I never looked around at the board again. I just knew what was going on.”
6:40 p.m.: Day completes his birdie-birdie finish with a 10-footer at the last for a closing 68 and a 12-under 276 total, but it’s not enough to hoist Australia off the Masters schneid and he ties for second with Scott (67).
“I knew what Schwartzel was doing and knew I had to birdie my last two holes. As soon as I hit in close (at No. 18) I knew I’d given myself a chance,” Day said. “I knew if I holed that putt I’d kind of put a little bit of pressure on him but then I looked back down the fairway and saw a couple of balls and was like, OK.”
6:48 p.m.: Schwartzel caps off his historic run with a 25-footer for his fourth consecutive birdie at the last and the day’s low round (66) for a 14-under 274 total.
6:55 p.m.: McIlroy putts out on the last for a par and a closing 80 to tie for 15th place. A little more than two months later he would score the ultimate bounce-back victory with his eight-stroke romp at the U.S. Open.