He chipped in for birdie on the first hole, eagled the par-4 third, turned in 34 and finished with a string of four birdies, the final from about 15 feet to put a sterling finish to his 66, and his four rounds of 274 championship golf. Charl is 26, holds a private pilot’s license and three times has won the Order of Merit, championship of South Africa's Sunshine Tour. And, let it not be overlooked that he is the third South African winner of this American jewel, following Gary Player, of historic proportions, and Trevor Immelman, of 2008.
Schwartzel only came on the international scene a couple of years ago when he finished second — to Ernie Els — in the CD World Championship at Doral in Florida.
And this is only his second Masters. The amazing thing is, he only slipped into championship perspective late in the day after the lead had been bandied about like a political balloon.
We begin at the beginning, when Tiger Woods seemed to have renewed his grasp on the game. He turned the front nine in 31 and had the galleries rocking. Then his fate took a dull turn and his touch vaporized.
He birdied only one hole on the back nine, and the traffic blew by, leaving him in its dust.
He finished in a tie for fourth, with his better-than-respectable 67, but Schwartzel whizzed by with a round of 66, Jason Day slipped in on a round of 68, and Adam Scott, who appeared to have it in his grasp, finished in a tie for second with Day at 276. Schwartzel's final score of 274 gave him a two-stroke margin, by which time the galleries had finally taken notice.
Oh, and Luke Donald, whom I'd suspected of having a victory up his sleeve, did slip in with a 69, but he'd written his demise with a water shot on the treacherous 12th hole. He finished at 278.
It now grieves me to bring attention to McIlroy, the 21-year-old from Holywood in Ulster.
The bright young chap had led the field for three days and appeared to have it in hand. And through the first nine holes was steady as it went, but the most inscrutable thing happened on the 10th hole, playing down along the Presidential cottage and Bobby Jones' cottage residence in his day.
McIlroy's shots flew right and left, and, by the time he was through, he had triple-bogeyed the 10th. His score ballooned to 80, and it was an embarrassing sight as he and Angel Cabrera, a former champion, had to play out their finish after the game was done. This was a day that will leave a deep mark on the young Irishman, who had led the field for three days.
It was, if I may be allowed the freedom to say, one of the strangest Masters I have ever seen. Strange swings from one seeming champion to another, Woods' fade-out, Day's slump and then revival, Adam Scott's seeming victory before Schwartzel put his foot to the pedal. Strange, weird, inscrutable, and all those things, but what a day to have been in the gallery.