AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa hits his tee shot on the the fourth hole during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

2011 Masters: Charl Schwartzel Collects Green Jacket

SB Nation Houston's coverage of The Masters Golf Tournament.

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2011 Masters Leaderboard: Schwartzel Emerges Victorious After Wild Sunday At Augusta

It’s hard to pick a starting point for recapping today’s proceedings at Augusta. At one point, there were five players tied for the lead with four more one stroke behind. But when the dust settled, South African Charl Schwartzel reigned supreme after a brilliant round of 66. That’s just the primer for one of the most thrilling Sunday’s of a major in recent memory.

After playing 54 holes of composed and intelligent golf, Rory McIlroy delivered a round of golf that would make Dustin Johnson (great pick Evan!) proud. The lad from Northern Ireland started his round with a bogey, and it just got worse from there. The wheels came completely off the Rorywagon on hole 10, when he drove his tee shot between two cabins well off the fairway. This was the beginning of a Van de Velde-esque hole and after posting a day-worse 80, McIlroy finished tied for 15th.

Tiger Woods couldn’t keep the momentum going after his stellar front nine. The his charge really deflated when he missed a short eagle put on 15 that would have given him a one stroke lead. Still, Woods looked sharper than he has in some time and seemed to be enjoying his golf. The PGA has to be happy that it’s biggest ratings draw is rounding into form.

Brilliant shots, missed puts, shanked drives, and tossed clubs littered the course today. Jason Day, Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera, and Adam Scott all held a share of the lead at some point, and plenty of other names were in the mix. For a golf fan, it was a glorious day of action.

But when all was said and done, it was the unheralded man from South Africa wearing green. The twenty-six year old Schwartzel started his round with a chip-in on one and a brilliant iron shot on three for eagle. Then finished his round with four straight birdies to win the Masters.  Standing on the 18th green, he needed only two putt to win the Masters.  He birdied it instead.  It was that kind of day for him.

And with that a fantastic four days of golf comes to an end. If the other three majors are half as entertaining as this, we are in for a brilliant summer of golf. See you all at Congressional in June!


2011 Masters Leaderboard: Tiger On The Hunt

I said it was Rory’s to lose and he’s certainly doing his part, but some unknown player named Tiger Woods is making a Sunday funday run and it’s all kicked off at Augusta! McIlroy’s off to a shaky start, bogeying one and pulling off a stellar bunker shot to help save par at two.

Woods is at five under after eight holes, including a highlight reel second shot on eight that set up an eagle putt. Which he promptly sunk to bring himself within one of McIlroy. He finds himself in a spot of trouble on nine, but a blistering front nine has put Woods right in the mix.

He’s not the only one threatening the leader. South African Charl Schwartzel got off to a blinding start, chipping in for birdie at one and then hitting a magnificent iron on three that found the hole for an eagle. He briefly shared the lead at -11, but has since given one back.

Sunday at the Masters. Crack open a cold one!

ADDENDUM: And just as I’m about to post, Rory misses a short par put to drop another shot. It’s a three-way tie at -10, but Tiger has a long par putt on nine – which he makes! The Masters!


2011 Masters Leaderboard: Cabrera Emerges While Woods Fades

Rory McIlroy continues to play impressive and composed golf. Over 54 holes, he has three bogies, which is one less than his playing partner Jason Day had just today. Small wonder the lad from Northern Ireland sits comfortably atop the leader board at -12, four strokes ahead of his nearest competitor.

And who will Rory be playing with on Sunday? None other than the chain smoking gum chewing 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera. After shooting a day-best five under, Cabrera is at eight under and should at least give McIlroy something to think about tomorrow. Cabrera has two tour wins in the last five years – the aforementioned Masters, and the 2007 US Open. What he’s doing most of the year is anyone’s guess, but he certainly picks the right time to shine.

But while one former champion emerged, another struggled and ultimately faded. The troubles and inconsistencies that have plagued his game recently were on full display. Brilliant shots repeatedly saved him after erratic drives and he made more than a few laborious pars. At five under he’s by no means out of it, but it will take a vintage Tiger round to pull it off, something we haven’t seen in quite some time.

This is Rory’s to lose. Over the last three days, he’s demonstrated a maturity and composure that belies his age. Still, you don’t get the green jacket for playing 54 holes of good golf. Sunday at Augusta can be a treacherous experience – just ask Greg Norman.

Will a European emerge victories for the first time since Olazabal’s win in 1999? All will be revealed on Sunday.


2011 Masters Leaderboard: Tiger Woods Is Good At Golf

There’s a scene in Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” where the radio executives talk about the average amount of time people listen to Stern on the radio. Long story short, those that hated the guy tended to listen for twice as long as Stern’s fans. Enter Tiger Woods.

People love to tear down the mighty, and Tiger has endured a rather toxic year and some change. But love him or hate him, when Tiger’s on the hunt, people watch golf. So you can bet your bottom dollar the big wigs at PGA HQ are dancing a happy little jig because Mr. Woods appears to have hit a bit of a hot streak.

After bogeying the seventh to return to even par, Woods rattled off seven birdies on the last eleven holes to take him to seven under and a share of third place with KJ Choi, three strokes behind the leader Rory McIlroy. For his part, the Irishman (take that Great Britain!) shot a respectable three under to push his lead to ten under.

Tiger’s run slightly overshadowed an exceptional round from Australian youngster Jason Day, who posted an eight under (no bogies) and sits two strokes behind Mr. McIlroy.

With the cut projected at +1, a few notable golfers will be packing their bags and heading home including 2010 US Open winner Graham McDowell and current world number one Martin Kaymer.

Oh and some guy named Fred Couples is hanging around at five under, good enough for seventh.

Can Tiger win his fifth green jacket or will one of the young pups earn their seat at the Champions Dinner? Check back tomorrow for more.


2011 Masters Update: Rory on the March!

Day one of the Masters is in the books, and the youth movement is in full effect. After a storming first round, 21 year old Rory McIlroy shares the lead posting a seven under 65. The rest of the field might consider themselves lucky, as the lad from Northern Ireland missed a few make-able birdie putts on the back nine. He’s not alone at the top, however. Spaniard Alvaro Quiros played a magnificent round, accented by a birdie on 18 to grab a share of the lead.

Tiger Woods (-1) and Phil Mickelson (-2) had their share of ups and downs, with Lefty in particular spending a bit of time in the azaleas. Tiger looked more comfortable and relaxed than he has in some time, no doubt enjoying the familiar comforts of a course he’s had enormous success on.

Notable first round struggles included Dustin Johnson (2, great pick!), Vijay Singh (4), and Padraig Harrington (+5). Plenty of golf left to play, but if Rory and Alvaro turn in another day like today, we could be looking at a cut around even.

The greens caused more than a few problems today and the curses and prayers were heard in equal measure at Amen Corner. Assuming the weather holds, we’re in for a spectacular weekend of golf at Augusta National.


2011 Masters: Will Woods or Mickelson Be Wearing Green Come Sunday?

Do you hear that friends? The soft cooing of Jim Nantz. The wearing of boat shoes and polos. The screaming of "GET IN THE HOLE" off a par five drive. The donning of a green jacket.  It's Masters time!

The unofficial start of summer and the cornucopia of majors that comes with it tees off this weekend at Augusta National. Before letting Nantz - the former Houston Cougars golfer and Fred Couples roommate - guide you through the weekend, lets take a look at some stories to follow.

Can Lefty Repeat?  Mickelson returns to Augusta in search of his fourth green jacket in eight years, an astounding feat if he manages it. (Though three-in-seven is nothing to scoff at.) He picked up his first win since the 2010 Masters this past weekend at the Shell Houston Open, and from the look of it he's rounding into form at just the right time. Being the "favorite" in a golf tournament means absolutely nothing, but Lefty deserves the moniker going into this year's tournament.

Tiger On The Prowl:  It's easy to take shots at Woods.He slept with porn stars and now his career is in shambles and he's playing terrible golf!  While that may be true, I'd like to point something out to everyone. Last year in the midst of the cyclone of misery surrounding Woods, he finished tied for fourth at the Masters. Playing some of the worst golf of his career,Tiger Woods still managed a top five finish at Augusta. Write him off at your own peril.  Augusta is Tiger country.

Youth Movement: Just behind the established aristocracy of the tour sits a host of talented youngsters.  Dustin Johnson can rip it and had an excellent 2010 (outside of a certain Sunday at Pebble Beach). Anthony Kim possesses a well-rounded game and continues to tease with excellent showings. And Hunter Mahan is always dangerous.  Golf could use an infusion of youth and the good pub that would accompany a breakout winner. Can one of them finally make the leap to major winner?

The Pick:  Mickelson is the easy pick, but there's no fun in that. I gave Bubba Watson serious consideration, especially since he can bomb it on drives and is a joy to follow. But I believe in karma and like the chances of another big hitter. Dustin Johnson, I choo-choo-choose you!

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