By Dinouk Colombage
After three and half days of the 2011 Masters at Augusta it looked as though rookie sensation Rory McIlroy was as good as set to receive the green jacket. Then at the 10th tee everything went haywire as he completed one of the greatest falls from grace.
Behind him came storming up the leader board was South African Charl Schwartzel who avoided the crowd and secured his maiden title. For both men their careers were earmarked at this point, one a come from behind champion the other a potential choker when finishing.
Teeing off at the 10th, McIlroy’s entire campaign was derailed as he shanked his shot to the left into a patch of trees. The rough would have represented a jungle to McIlroy as he hacked his way across the course only to land in the rough on left of the green. Dropping three shots on one hole and many people saw the youngster’s dreams slip away. One bad hole would not cost a player the masters, but if you follow it up with a bogey and four putt the next two holes it will be difficult to recover. The pressure showed as McIlroy found the water at the 13th hole as he ended the round carding an 80. So with this final round 80 the dreams of Rory, as the crowd called him, and to the fore stepped up Schwartzel.
Before Schwartzel’s dream run began it looked as thought Tiger Wood’s would regain the green jacket and with it the admiration the golfing community gave him in the years gone by. Finishing the front 9 in 31 strokes it looked as though he was finally carving his way to victory. Wood’s looked ready to complete an astonishing turn around victory on the 17th as he putted for birdie, the ball stayed out and with it so too did his ambition of winning a fifth Masters title. Alongside Woods, several others including Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Luke Donald were flirting with the top spot. Scott and fellow Australian Jason Day left to the club house leading at 12 under; were helpless as they watched Schwartzel take a one shot lead up to the last hole. He sealed the victory on the 18th with a birdie and sparked off celebrations only seen at the Masters. Despite the Woods failing to win, a surprise win like this on the final day was greatly appreciated by the large crowd.
For Scott and Day the possibility of and Australian breaking the Masters jinx will have to wait another year. For McIlroy his inability to finish a tournament will have to be addresses as this was yet another example of his failings at crossing the finish line. Wood’s era maybe over but it is certainly looking like the PGA tour will be a close fought contest with the youngsters on show.