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Great major finish

April 11, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

Tiger purred, roared and then finished by coughing up a huge hair ball.

Rory McIlroy's choke was massive. His 80 (43 on the back nine) was the biggest Sunday meltdown since Greg Norman gagged a six-shot lead in 1996, shoot 78 and lose to Nick Faldo by five.

And, in stepped Charl Schwartzel.

While the whole world was watching Tiger make a move, but eventually still fail in winning a major coming from behind, and the Australian Nation was cheering on Adam Scott and Jason Day, this South African came from nowhere in what was riveting Sunday afternoon golf from Augusta National.

After dunking his second shot on the par-4 third hole to go to 11-under and following it up with a bogey on the fourth, the Johannsburg, South Africa native made 10 straight pars before stepping to the 15th tee.

He then birdied 15, 16 and 17 before piping his tee shot on No. 18, striping his second shot and burying the birdie putt to be the first person in Master's history to birdie the final four holes to win the green jacket.

In addition, his victory came 50 years, to the day, after South Africa's Gary Player became the first international player to win at Augusta National.

Folks, even if Tiger had never made a move, this was great golf in a major championship.

Schwartzel carded 68-66 on the weekend, while Scott went 67-67.

Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, was five behind the leaders standing on the 12th tee, then birdied five in a row to climb into contention.

Schwartzel, who had 107 putts, which is 26.75 putts per round, is the fourth straight first-time major champ, following Germany's Martin Kaymer (PGA Championship), countryman Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open).

This is the first time American players have been without a major title or the Ryder Cup.

Schwartzel might be the next Steve Jones, Ben Curtis or Shaun Micheel of major championship winners, but he played solid golf down the stretch, when it counts, on Sunday.

I have not been the biggest Tiger Woods fan and became less so Sunday.

His attitude has been terrible and continues to be terrible.

His interview with Peter Kostis was terrible, but I shouldn't be surprised.

He says nothing of importance.

Dearest Tiger fans, remember he did this a year ago and was nowhere to be seen for the rest of the year. I am not saying Tiger is done, but he now is just another golfer. His days of dominating a golf course, a field is over.

On the other hand, I became more of a McIlroy fan after Sunday.

Instead of hiding from an interview, after he shot 80, he stopped and talked with Kostis and was true and gave us some insight into his attitude and disposition.

"I hit a poor tee shot on 10 and it unraveled from there," he said. "I'm disappointed at the minute and will be for the next couple of days, but I know I will have more chances. It's going to be hard to take for a few days.

"Hopefully it will build a little bit of character in me as well. I'll come out much stronger for it."

Pure class.

Remember, if you've never choked, it means you've never had the opportunity.

From The Associated Press - Authorities say a youth football coach was arrested during a game in San Diego after he allegedly punched and kicked a parent, who was knocked unconscious when he hit the ground.

San Diego police say the coach, 32-year-old Saivaauli Savaiinea, was arrested Saturday afternoon on suspicion of felony battery.

He reportedly attacked 32-year-old Mark Cannon during an argument. Police say Cannon tripped over his own feet, fell and hit his head on concrete. Cannon was taken to a trauma center with head injuries. Police had no word on his condition Sunday.

Police Lt. Dan Christman told the San Diego Union Tribune that Savaiinea reportedly thought he overheard Cannon trying to recruit one of his players.

The two men were with opposing teams of 9, 10 and 11-year-old kids from Chula Vista, Calif.

I bet you didn't see that last line coming, huh?

Yep, 9-to-11-year-old kids.

Another example of how adults just ruin things for kids.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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