It’s all in the detail for Masters king

2011-04-16 19:58

Suddenly it’s all starting to make sense.

The meticulous nature.

The precision in his game.

The unhurried approach to his career. And the quiet confidence.

“I think now, finally, it all makes sense to me,” Charl Schwartzel said from Augusta this week after his first Major victory with a Masters performance that was as confident and consummate as has been seen in the 75-year history of the event.

“I’ve always worked hard and I’m very particular about things.

I think having that kind of personality helped me in the Masters.

Around Augusta you need to be so precise.

I mean, when you putt there you have to be exactly on the right line otherwise the ball just won’t go in.

You have to know exactly where you want to place the ball on the fairway to give you the best shot into the green. It’s a very well thought-out golf course, and it’s also the way I like to do things.”

When Schwartzel won the Africa Open and Joburg Open back-to-back on the Sunshine Tour in 2010, he said with all the humility that has been the hallmark of his career: “I feel like I can beat anybody in the world.”

Last weekend, at Augusta National Golf Club, the 26-year-old South ­African did just that. With four birdies over the final four holes, Schwartzel took his place among golf’s elite.

But with the boy from Maccauvlei, who is as thin as a one iron, there has always been a sense that it was just a matter of time before he broke through on the biggest stage of all.

And time is something the young star is not afraid of. Schwartzel has been meticulous about the progression in his career, going through each stage and not in a hurry to skip any steps.

He perfected the art of winning on both the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, becoming a master at closing out tournaments when he was in the hunt.

And in the past two years in particular, he took his own understanding of his game to another level.

He needed it all because the back nine of the Masters on a Sunday ­afternoon is no place for young men who can only talk a good game or look good for a sponsor’s advert.

“I’ve always believed I can win any tournament I play in, and that there should be nothing standing in my way.

But it’s easy to just say that.

“You have to go out there and prove it as well.

“With the good start I had to the ­final round, I knew I had a great chance to prove myself; but I had to dig deep because the Sunday of a Masters is nothing like I’ve ever felt before. It’s unbelievably tough to win this tournament.

“Winning on the European Tour is one thing, and I won’t take away from any of my victories. But it’s nothing like trying to win at the Masters.

You have to be so in control and so calm.

There are so many things going through your head and you can’t let it get to you. And there’s nowhere to hide at Augusta.

You hear all the cheers and you know people are making birdies.”

So how was Schwartzel able to ­appear so calm amid the roars that were going up when as many as eight players at one stage were all in the hunt for victory?

“You have to make a choice. It comes down to, how badly do you want this?”

There was no doubt about ­Schwartzel’s desire.

“I thought of this so much while growing up.

You see all the pictures of the great golfers who’ve won the Masters and you wonder if you’ll ever do it yourself one day.

It’s a dream come true.”

Not that he ever needed inspiration, but Schwartzel took a lot from close friend Louis Oosthuizen’s victory in the Open last year, which confirmed for him his own ability to win a Major.

There was also tremendous support from his father, George, who to this day still helps Schwartzel with his swing and offers valuable guidance and advice.

A year ago there was the lunch that Johann Rupert arranged with Jack Nicklaus and Schwartzel in order for the 18-times Major champion to impart some of his intimate knowledge about how to play in the Augusta National.

And during Masters week there was constant support from David Frost and Nick Price, as well as a letter in his locker from Gary Player on the morning of the final round.

“Mr Player said that I will make mistakes out there, but that I should just remain patient and do my best.”

Player did the same for Oosthuizen, and is often an unseen supporter of many young golfers.


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