13 October 2008
South African golfer Charl Schwartzel captured his third European Tour title and his second in Spain on Sunday when he won the Madrid Masters by three shots with a superb total of 19-under-par 265.
His most recent European Tour win came in the Spanish Open, also in Madrid, in 2007.
It was a victory that almost never was. Schwartzel had been struggling with a respiratory infection and a sore shoulder before the start of the event and came close to withdrawing from it. However, after calling home, his father persuaded him to play and it proved to be excellent fatherly advice.
For putting up with the pain and discomfort, Schwartzel was rewarded with the winner’s cheque of €166 660 – roughly R2.07-million, which is a pretty good trade-off, almost anyone would agree.
Schwartzel was thrilled with his victory and said he putted very well to seal the deal; indeed, his final round of five-under-par 66 was bogey-free. He carded two birdies on the front nine and three more in five holes coming home to cement his win.
It was a solid all-round performance from Schwartzel, spearheaded, he felt, by his putting. He carded rounds of 69, 64, 66, and 66.
The win helped the young South African rocket up the world rankings. He began the Madrid Masters ranked 97th, but after his victory he is up to 66th. He also improved from 35th to 24th on the European Tour’s Order of Merit.
Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez had begun the last round only a shot behind Schwartzel after a superb third round of nine-under-par 62. As a former winner on the same Club de Campo Villa de Madrid course in the Madrid Open in 2003, he was expected to put the South African under pressure, but he came up short, firing a three-under 68, thereby ceding a further two shots to Schwartzel.
Local favourite Pablo Larrazabel fired a 67 in the final round to complete the tournament on 15-under-par 269, one shot behind Gonzalez, in third place.
A little further down the leaderboard, South Africa’s James Kamte enjoyed his best result on the European Tour when he tied for 16th after rounds of 68, 70, 72, and 67 left him on seven-under 277 for the tournament.
Richard Sterne, who won the Madrid Open in 2004, tied for 53rd after finishing on one-under-par 283.
Since winning the Joburg Open, co-hosted by the European and Sunshine Tours, the Compleat Golfer’s 2007 Golfer of the Year, has struggled with his form, only once finishing inside the top 20 of an event in 2008.
- 265 Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 69 64 66 66
- 268 Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 69 69 62 68
- 269 Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 68 72 62 67
- 270 Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 74 66 66 64
- 270 Robert Rock (GBR) 70 65 71 64
- 277 James Kamte (RSA) 68 70 72 67
- 283 Richard Sterne (RSA) 72 67 73 71
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