Monday, April 11, 2011

The dark horse gets a spiffy new blazer...

You just had to see this one coming.

No, not Charl Schwartzel barreling out of anonymity to erase a four-shot final round deficit to capture The Masters, his first major championship. More predictable would be expecting me to take some time today to gloat about selecting the unknown 26-year-old South African as my dark horse to win the tournament from the start.

Well I'm not one to disappoint.

Quoted from Thursday's post on the first round at The Masters:

"Dark Horse: Charl Schwartzel
I was first turned on to the South African after watching several European Tour events (thanks to an English co-worker). I think the guy has the best swing in golf, which helps at Augusta if you can hit it in the right spots, which he usually does. His putting will be key."

Schwartzel hit it in all the right spots. And how about converting four birdie putts on the final four holes of the tournament? It's like I saw The Masters in a dream beforehand.

Pre-tournament, the bookmakers agreed Schwartzel was a long-shot, with our new champion going off at 66-1 odds to win the tournament. Makes me kind of sad I wasn't in Vegas a couple pints in. I could have done something silly, like win a ton of money.

The improbable pick won't go completely unrewarded, though (aside from my rapidly inflating ego). After selecting the eventual winner in an annual Masters bet with a golfing friend in St. Maarten, I can now expect a nice bottle of authentic Caribbean rum for my foresight. Thanks Charl, I'll drink to you soon enough.

Schwartzel's four consecutive birdies closed out the most intense and back-and-forth Masters Sunday I have ever seen. It was the first time anyone had ever birdied the final four holes to win the tournament (only Jack Nicklaus has also navigated those holes in four-under: eagle, birdie, birdie, par. Nice company). Nine players held at least a share of the lead at one point during their rounds, Nine! Such a log jam at the top of the leaderboard on the back nine at Augusta is unheard of. It would take something extremely impressive to break free from pack this time.

And everything about Schwartzel's final round 66 was the epitome of impressive.

Almost as good as the pick. Would it be wrong to take some of the credit?


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