By Ann Liguori
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Yes, I did pick UConn to win the NCAA men’s basketball title but no, I did not pick Charl Schwartzel to win the Masters! Did anyone????
This guy is talented, don’t get me wrong. He won six events on the PGA European Tour. But in the United States, previous to the 2011 Masters, his stats were unimpressive. I do not know one person, even writers who cover the European Tour, who picked the 26-year-old from South Africa to win The Masters.
But the guy was brilliant! He started and finished the final round in style, becoming the first Masters champion to close with four straight birdies! His start was equally as dramatic – he chipped in from off the first green for birdie with a bump and run shot and holed one from the fairway for eagle on the third hole.
Schwartzel prevailed in a riveting final round where eight different guys held the share of the lead at one point. He shot a 6-under-66, won by two shots and finished with a ‘14 under par 274’ for the championship.
Five guys were tied for the lead coming down the stretch, including Tiger who made an exciting charge.
For much of the day, Tiger looked like he would pull off an incredible come-from-behind win. He hit one of the most spectacular shots I’ve ever seen – his approach shot on the par five 8th hole which set up an eagle putt within ten feet of the cup, which he made. With four birdies and that eagle, he picked up six shots in eight holes and was tied for the lead after nine.
He sunk a long putt to save par on 9. But he missed a three- footer on 12 for a bogie, had a chance for eagle with a short putt on 15 which he birdied. Had he eagled that, he could have taken over the sole lead. The birdie put him in a five way tie for the lead but missing that eagle putt on 15 seemed to take some wind out of his sails. He parred the rest of the way home, finishing with a 5-under 67 and at 10 under, it was eventually good enough for a tie for fourth.
And I can’t say enough positive things about 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who showed off his incredible talent in his first three rounds of golf and reacted to his fourth round melt-down, when interviewed afterwards, like the fine guy that he is, saying that he will learn from the experience and hopefully be a stronger person. As I frequently mentioned on the air, the pressure on Sundays at The Masters can tear down the best of players, no matter how talented and how mentally strong. McIlroy unraveled on the 10th hole and it was all downhill from there. He shot an 8- over-par, 80, and finished tied for 15th. Can you compare his collapse to Greg Norman losing his six shot lead in 1996? It’s difficult to say which was worse. Norman was older than McIlroy when it happened and already had won two Majors. But as much as Norman would love to have that day back as a player, his meltdown on that Sunday did not stop him from building one of the most lucrative empires in golf! Hopefully, McIlroy will bounce back and win a Major very soon.
And I can’t say enough positive things about 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who showed off his incredible talent in his first three rounds of golf and reacted to his fourth round melt-down, when interviewed afterwards, like the fine guy that he is, saying that he will learn from the experience and hopefully be a stronger person. A true test of one’s character is often revealed by the way he/she responds to adversity. McIlroy passed the test in flying colors with the way he handled himself afterwards. He was available to the media and his answers were gracious and impressive as he thanked the galleries for their support and said the loss would build character.