Blog 108, 4/10/11 - Masters Recap and Pics

The Masters never fails to create tension, drama, and almost unbearable excitement. This year's version was perhaps the most exciting of all with nine players in the back-nine mix, ten if you include the unfortunate Irishman Rory McIlroy who began the day with a four-stroke lead but struggled to an eight-over 80.
In the end South Africa's Charl Schwartzel went lowest of all shooting a closing 66 to complete the 72 holes on 14-under 274 and two clear of Adam Scott and Jason Day who shot 67 and 68 respectively in valiant attempts to become Australia's first winner of the Green Jacket. Last July I couldn't help mentioning that I had foreseen Louis Oosthuizen's win at the Open Championship a few years previously, so good were his swing and temperament. The same is true of Schwartzel, a stablemate of Oosthuizen's, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, McIlroy (and, somewhat strangely, Christina Kim) at Chubby Chandler's International Sports Management . Since the 26-year-old from Johannesburg first won on the European Tour, in 2005, it has been pretty obvious he had the game to win a major championship. In a Golf Magazine swing sequence, Schwartzel's action was broken down into all its near-perfect elements and described as a 'model' swing. "If you're not familar with Charl Schwartzel yet, get ready to be," the article began in rather timely fashion given that it appeared the week before the Masters. Brandel Chamblee called it one of the best swings he had ever seen on the Golf Channel this evening.
Actually, what is it with young South African golf swings? Schwartzel's is obviously as good as anyone's, Oosthuizen's has wonderful rhythm and is amazingly powerful for a 160lb man, and Trevor Immelman's has often been compared to that of Ben Hogan and won him the 2008 Masters. Though inspired to play the game by the great Gary Player who won the first of his three Masters 50 years ago today, the modern trio appear not to have taken any swing tips from the Black Knight. Player's swing, while obviously very effective, was never very much to look at, involving a large forward press of the right knee prior to taking the club back, and a small movement of his head at the start of the downswing to ensure it remained behind the ball. Butch Harmon said that Player went at the ball harder than anyone else because, at 145lbs and 5'7", he had no choice.
Anyway, we're off the point which is...the Masters. I was fortunate to visit Augusta National for the first time last week and, not surprisingly, loved every second of it. The week started with the Golf Writers Association of America dinner where Graeme McDowell (male), Bernhard Langer (senior), and Yani Tseng (female) were presented their Player of the Year (2010) awards, Lorena Ochoa received the Charlie Bartlett Award for her contributions to the betterment of society, Steve Stricker was recognized for his willingness to help the press with the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award, and 88-year-old Jackie Burke Jr stole the show with a hilarious speech after being given the William D. Richardson Award for his enormous contribution to the game.
As for the course, everything about it was pretty much as expected. Thanks to having watched 26 Masters on TV, and studying dozens of maps of the layout, I knew where the holes were, and what each looked like. But even though there were few surprises, it was in no way disappointing. In fact, it was magical and I can't wait to go back.

Here are a few pictures I took on the Wednesday when patrons are permitted to use cameras, and certainly take advantage.









































































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