Schwartzel wins Masters to extend Aussie jinx

Augusta: South African Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win the 75th Masters by two strokes over Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day in a dramatic back-nine showdown.

Schwartzel`s third birdie in a row was a tension-packed eight-foot putt at the 17th hole that left him needing only to par the 18th to win his first major title at age 26.

Instead, he dropped a 15-footer for birdie to finish off a six-under par 66, the field`s low round. He also made a chip-in birdie at the first and an eagle from the fairway on the third Sunday in playing 72 holes on 14-under par 274. "It was just a phenomenal day," Schwartzel said. "There were so many roars. The atmosphere out there was incredible."

Schwartzel denied Scott and Day their homeland`s long-sought dream of having an Australian capture a Masters title, the only major crown no player from Down Under has claimed.

"Adam Scott was making birdies and I needed to do something," Schwartzel said. "I made some good iron shots and some good putts."

Australian players have won nine British Opens, four PGA Championships and two US Open titles, but the only one of those that came in the past 15 years was claimed by Ogilvy at the 2006 US Open.

"I don`t think I can ask for anything more," Scott said. "It was great to make a run out there. I just want to get in the mix next time."

Three Aussies have finished second in the Masters - Bruce Crampton in 1972, Jack Newton in 1980 and Greg Norman three times, notably a last-day collapse in 1996 that gave Nick Faldo a third Masters crown.

"I couldn`t do any more than I did out there," Masters debutante Day said after a round of 68. "Adam and I gave our best. Charl just had a little more. To be in the hunt to be the first Aussie to win the Masters was special."

Schwartzel, who made it to Augusta only off his 2010 year-end top 50 world ranking, won 50 years to the day after countryman Gary Player became the first Masters winner from outside America.

"I don`t think I`ve ever done so much praying on a golf course in my life," said Schwartzel, who dedicated the victory to his father and thanked reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen for being an inspiration.

"He inspired me so much to do this and think it`s possible to win a major like this," Schwartzel said.

It was only the second time in 21 years that the Masters winner did not come from the final pairing, Schwartzel in the penultimate group after entering the last round four strokes behind Rory McIlroy, whose last-day 80 doomed his bid.

Bureau Report