☰ Menu
Marla Ridenour on Sports

Feeling let down over Charl Schwartzel's Masters victory

By Marla Published: April 10, 2011

My cell phone rang at 3:59 p.m., another sports-crazy friend calling over what was going on at the 75th Masters.

I said something to the effect of, "I have a feeling we're going to get Oosthuizened.''

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy was still leading at that point, his back nine debacle yet to come. The leaderboard was bulging with recognizable names old and young, mostly young. Cabrera, Choi, Scott, Woods ... yet I couldn't shake the feeling that another unknown was going to prevail in the year's first major just as Louis Oosthuizen had in last summer's British Open at St. Andrews.

South African Charl Schwartzel seems like a great guy and he played masterful golf, birdieing the final four holes to capture a two-shot triumph over Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day. Schwartzel's 6-under 66 was the best closing round at the Masters in 22 years.

I loved that it came on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player's victory in the Masters, which made the event the international showcase it is today.

Player even tweeted afterward, according to Internet reports, ''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, 75, racked up the most airline miles of any professional golfer and he may know more about Twitter than any of them over 50.

But I couldn't help feeling somewhat disappointed in the outcome. I was rooting for Jason Day, the 23-year-old who met his wife Ellie (nee Harvey) when she worked as a waitress at Mavis Winkle's Irish Pub in Twinsburg. There was Ellie at the 18th hole, wiping away tears even before he birdied the hole to tie Scott for second. Imagine what she'll do when he wins a major. Her husband seems to have the resilience to do it someday.

I'd also hoped for a McIlroy victory, which could have signalled a changing of the guard on the PGA Tour.

But even with eight different players holding a share of the lead on the back nine and a five-way tie at one point, I must admit the only time my heart really pounded was when Tiger Woods stood over a 4 1/2 foot putt for eagle at the 15th hole. His final-day charge after a lackluster Saturday would have been a  dramatic way for Woods to break a 17th-month victory drought.

But the putt lipped out and he had to settle for birdie, which obviously angered him. Understandable, but there was no reason for Woods' less-than-gracious post-round interview, when he gave one-word answers to three questions as he waited for play to end.

By the time Schwartzel reached the 17th hole, CBS had finally dug up some background on him. His father is a chicken farmer in South Africa who was very influential in his golf game. Then came the key nugget (pun intended). He's been renting a house in Florida with countryman Oosthuizen, using it as a home base to prepare for the Masters.

Fitting, totally fitting, if not all that fulfilling.



Prev Next

Recent Stories