We continue with our countdown of the top 25 Masters Moments, with this look back to eight years ago. When the Golf world arrived at Augusta National in the spring of 2011 many expected a coronation of a young man from Northern Ireland by the name of Rory McIlroy he was playing incredible golf coming into the Masters. He continued his momentum through the first 63 holes of the tournament. By the end of the next nine, he’s all the golf world would be talking about, but not in the way any of us had imagined.
(2011) Charl Schwartzel
In the first round at Augusta, the storyline of Rory McIlroy’s coronation went according to plan with an incredible bogey-free 65 (-7), matched unbelievable by Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. The next day Quiros fell off, McIlroy kept his positive momentum going with a 69 to lead through two rounds at (-10) The day was stolen by a 64 by Jason Day who later revealed he nearly quit the game that week and a 66 by Tiger Woods which vaulted them both into contention. Come the end of the next day McIlroy shot another solid round with a (-2) 70. He was four shots clear of a four-way tie for 2nd between Angel Cabrera, KJ Choi, Day and Charl Schwartzel. Day had two of his fellow Australians just behind him in Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy and the country was hungry for it’s first Masters win.
Before the leaders could tee off loud roars came from up ahead with Tiger Woods making a Sunday charge with two early birdies to rebound from his 3rd round (74). Day was the second of the four tied for 2nd off and the early pressure got to him as he made an early bogey on the 1st, but rebounded with a birdie on the next hole. Scott a hole ahead got that same birdie but didn’t bogey the first and kept some momentum going. In the 2nd to the last group, Schwartzel and Choi started their day differently as early bogeys dropped Choi from contention. Schwartzel hit a poor 2nd shot into the green but pulled off an incredible recovery chipping in from the side of the green. McIlroy and Cabrera in the final group started the day, McIlroy made a bogey at the first failed to birdie the Par Five second and his lead just like that was cut in half after Cabrera went Par, Birdie. Up ahead Woods rebounded from a bogey at four with birdies at 6, 7 and an Eagle at 8 and found himself tied for the lead well ahead of the pack. Day made four straight pars after his bogey, birdie start he then did it again bogeyed the 7th, and followed it up with a birdie at 8. Scott did it himself following up a bogey at 6, with a birdie at 7.
After his birdie on one, Schwartzel pars the 2nd and then holes out from the fairway for an Eagle on the 3rd. He then followed it up with a bogey on four. Cabrera bogeyed the 3rd, McIlroy the 5th. They then each birdied the 7th and Cabrera added one at 8 and he was just one back of McIlroy, they both pared 9 and made the turn within a shot of each other. On the 10th tee, McIlroy led by one over Cabrera and Schwartzel who had pared every hole since his bogey at four. After 63 holes of pure brilliance from McIlroy, it was about to come crashing down in a most wrenching way. His tee shot traveled 50 yards and actually landed on Augusta Nationals Par Three course where the annual Par Three contest is played. He somehow found the ball and chipped it all the way back into the 10th fairway. His 3rd shot from there missed the green wide left and left himself an impossible up and down and he from there made a Triple Bogey, Cabrera made Par and he was tied with Scott and Schwartzel for the lead. McIlroy then followed it up with a bogey at 12, and a double bogey at 12 he had lost six shots in three holes. Then…he put his tee ball into the water on 13 and was all but out of the picture. Up ahead while all that was going on, Day made two birdies on 12 and 13, while Scott added two birdies on 11 and 14 to catch Schwartzel and Cabrera.
Cabrera then made a costly bogey at 12, while Scott made a massive Par save on 15 after putting a ball in the water, he would add a birdie at 16 and get in the clubhouse at -12 (276) Day made three straight Pars on 14-16, then birdied the last two holes and CBS Nick Faldo said “It was going to take something special to top them now” (meaning Day and Scott) little did anyone know what was about to happen. Schwartzel who had pared every hole since his bogey at four was in the 15th fairway he hit a 4-iron to 30 feet and two-putted for birdie, behind him Cabrera his only competition left on the course made birdie himself to stay one back. The next hole Schwartzel hits a 7-iron it settles 11 feet below the cup and he made his 2nd straight birdie, behind him Cabrera makes another bogey leaving it in the hands of Schwartzel and the two Australians in the clubhouse. On 17, Schwartzel after a great tee shot hits justs 9-iron into the green it settles just 8 feet below the hole, and he makes his 3rd straight birdie. Now all Schwartzel needs is a Par at the last, he hits an 8-iron to 15 feet and only needs two putts to win it…well as you probably guessed by the title he only needed one he finished the tournament with 4 straight birdies becoming the first and to this day the only player to do so. Taking home the title on the 50th anniversary of the first win by a South African by Gary Player.