Super Schwartzel wins 75th Masters Tournament

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Fifty years after Gary Player of South Africa became the first international champion of the Masters Tournament, Charl Schwartzel recorded his own history.

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Schwartzel  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Schwartzel

With four birdies on the final four holes. the South African shot a final-round 66 to win the 75th edition of the Masters Tournament today.

With his 12-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and another long birdie putt at the last, Schwartzel edged Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day by two shots for his first major victory. Schwartzel opened with rounds of 69-71-68 and finished at 14-under-par 274.

The 30-year-old Scott posted a final-round 67 to nearly become the first Aussie to win a green jacket. He closed with two birdies on his final five holes and almost became the first player to win at Augusta National Golf Club using a long putter.

Scott rolled in a five-foot birdie putt at No. 14. He followed with a two-putt par from long range at the par-5 15th. Scott then hit his shot of the tournament.

At No. 16, he flew his tee shot to the right shelf. The ball trickled down the green and settled two feet from the pin. He knocked in the putt to take a commanding two-shot lead with two holes remaining. But Schwartzel, playing one group behind, never wavered.

The 26-year-old Schwartzel, who began the day four off the pace, made a late run. After making birdie the par-5 15th, Schwartzel rolled in a long birdie putt at No. 16 to match Scott atop the leaderboard.

Then, Scott almost took a page out of the Kenny Perry book - Perry led by two with two remaining in 2009 before finishing bogey-bogey and losing in a playoff. Scott hooked his tee shot at No. 17 into the right greenside bunker at No. 7. After hitting his second shot into the bunker in front of the No. 17 green, Scott recovered with a blast to 10 feet. He then pumped his right fist as his putt fell into the cup.

Schwartzel did Scott one better at the par-4 17th, rolling in the putt of his life.

Scott had a chance to tie Schwartzel at No. 18, but his downhill 20-foot birdie attempt missed on the low side. He finished with par for his second consecutive 67.

Jason Day, in his first Masters appearance, drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, to pull within one of the lead before Schwartzel pushed two ahead of him. The 23-year-old Day, rolled in a 10-foot birdie attempt at the last shot, for 67 to match Scott.

Luke Donald, the Par-3 Contest winner, chipped in for birdie at the last to get to 10-under. Donald of England shot a final-round 69 to tie for fourth place.

Tiger Woods, bidding for his fifth green jacket, opened with 31 on the front nine.  His putter failed him on the back nine, though. He three-putted at No. 12 - his tournament-high sixth three-putt - for bogey. Then at the par-5 15th, with a chance to take the lead by himself, Woods knocked his approach to 4-1/2 feet. He lipped out the putt, but he made the comeback birdie to get into a five-way tie at 10-under.

Woods narrowly missed a 15-foot birdie try at No. 16 before making an up-and-down par one hole later. Woods took the clubhouse lead at 10-under after two-putting from 25 feet at the last.

Geoff Ogilvy entered the back nine five off the pace. He then reeled off five consecutive birdies, starting at No. 12. The 33-year-old Australian got up and down for par at 18 to join Woods at 10-under.

Rory McIlroy, the 54-hole leader, bogeyed the first hole and finished the front nine in 37. Holding a one-shot lead entering the back nine, McIlroy fell apart. He hooked his tee shot at the par-4 10th hole into the cabins to the left of the fairway. After punching out, McIlroy hooked his approach left of the green. He then hit a tree and later ended with triple bogey.

The 21-year-old from Northern Ireland then three-putted Nos. 11 and 12 to fade away. He finished with 80, the highest final round by a 54-hole leader since Greg Norman in 1996. The good news: McIlroy tied for 15th place and earned an exemption into the 2012 Masters.

Nineteen players finished at 4-under or better and will receive an invitation to next year's Masters. Bo Van Pelt shot 70 to finish ninth at 8-under, while Ryan Palmer (70) placed 10th. Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood and Edoardo Molinari each shot 70 to tie for 11th place at 5-under.

Former Masters champions Fred Couples and Trevor Immelman, along with Ross Fisher and Brandt Snedeker, tied for 15th place at 4-under.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson closed with 74 to finish at 1-under.

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