Hard not to stay glued to your big screen when five golfers are tied for the lead heading into the back nine at the Masters and you only have five minutes of commercials every hour. Just about sports heaven, I’d say.
In the end, Charl Schwarzel took what I’d characterize as the most exciting Masters in the past 20 years. Sure, Mickelson’s win in 2004 was incredible, Tiger’s coming out party was something else and Faldo’s win over Norman was both remarkable and difficult to watch in the same way it was hard to view the interview of a despondent and beaten McIlroy after yesterday’s final.
I wrote about the final round for Sympatico:
It is often said that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday, but that was never truer than this year. When the final golfers came through Amen Corner, nine players were within two shots of the lead, with five tied at the top at one point. By the time golf’s Georgian battle was concluded, the Australian invasion and a resurgent Tiger Woods couldn’t overcome South African Charl Schwartzel, who made birdies on the final four holes to win by two.
“Just an exciting day,” Schwartzel said after his win. “So many roars, and that atmosphere out there was just incredible. A phenomenal day.”
The conclusion of one of the most exhilarating Masters in recent memory was closer than Schwartzel’s victory would indicate. Australian Adam Scott, 30, who was once regarded as the heir apparent to Tiger Woods, hit the final tee at 12-under, with a share of the lead, while playing partner Jason Day sat one shot back. Meanwhile Schwartzel, who birdied the 15th and 16th holes to also sit at 12-under, hit an iron approach tight on the 17th hole, and rolled the put in to take the outright lead. Scott tried to a piece of the lead on the final hole, but when his birdie putt slid by, it was clear he wouldn’t be fitted for the green jacket this year. Day did roll in his final putt for birdie, but it was too late for the 23-year old Aussie, who would end up tied for second.
“You can’t be unhappy with how I finished,” said Day, who was playing his first Masters. “It was one of the most exciting tournaments I played in. It lived up to everything I expected and more. It must have looked great on TV. I can’t wait to watch it.”
Lost admist the leaders at Augusta was another awful showing by Mike Weir. The 2003 Masters winner had planned to play three weeks in a row, but left Augusta sounding pretty unsure of himself:
“Not much to say, and I’ll leave it at that,” said Weir. “Because if I say something, it won’t be good.”
He had hoped to find something at Augusta National, but a major championship is no place to come looking for it.
“After a month off, trying to work on things, it’s about the last place you want to be. You want to be coming in here confident,” he said.
“I’ll probably fly over and get to work with Mike [Wilson, his coach] next week.
“I’m scheduled to play the next three, but I’m not sure yet. We’ll see. I may need to just stay and work on it. No use me being out there if I’m not able to compete. I don’t want to be out there just to fill a spot.”