Rewind time for champ

Rewind time for champ

Masters winner Schwartzel is waiting to get home and watch the replay of his victory

long road: South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel registered a memorable win in Augusta but hasn’t yet had the chance to throw his legs up and watch the replay because of his long schedule. AFP

The South African birdied the last four holes at Augusta National to shoot a six-under-par 66 and overturn a four-shot deficit to Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and win his first major title.

Since Sunday, the softly spoken champion has completed a host of media requests and flown 25 hours across the world to compete in the Malaysian Open meaning he has only been able to see a replay of his final shot.

“I do realise I am the Masters champion it’s just still not quite real to me,” Schwartzel said in an interview at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

“Everything has happened so quickly and we have travelled a long way and just been so busy that once I have sat down in a week or so it will all sort of sink in.

“I have only seen the putt on 18, I haven’t seen any of the round. I would like to sit down on my own (with a couple of beers) and have a quite night and watch it.”

Schwartzel grew up on a chicken farm just outside Johannesburg and was taught to play golf by his father. He said he had spoken with his dad at length but that the success had left him a man in demand.

“It’s so overwhelming. There is just so many things going on right now.” Before the final round at Augusta, few people had tipped the South African to win his first major but he held his nerve to produced a flawless final-round as his rivals failed to keep pace.
“I like playing in contention,” said Schwartzel, who had won six times previously on the European Tour.

“I focus better. I get all my emotions better under control.  “The Masters is obviously different to other tournaments but yet I felt very, very in control and I’m quite proud of myself for that.”

The prize for keeping his cool was getting to wear the coveted Green Jacket, worn by his compatriots Gary Player and Trevor Immelman previously, which he said covered his shoulders for most of Sunday evening.

“It is weird what you will do for just a jacket,” the jovial character smirked from under his visor. “It’s such a good feeling. I wore it just about the whole night. I wore it on the plane for a while but it got a little hot at one stage so I had to take it off,” he said with a grin.

Accompanying him on the three-flights from Georgia to Malaysia was his friend McIlroy and the pair talked about the Northern Irishman's final-round 80 which opened the door to Schwartzel's success.

“Rory took it so well, obviously he must be hurting a little bit deep down inside the way he took it was the mark of a true champion. He is such a good player and he will be back on his feet soon and winning golf tournaments.”

The duo’s hopes of success at the co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event was hampered by their clubs being lost during the flight but nothing was going to dampen his mood before his final event prior to a well-earned break.

“I’m just a happy guy right now. I’m looking forward to this week.”  Schwartzel, who said he really enjoyed playing in hot conditions when asked if the humidity would affect him this week, was also buoyed by the news that South Africa would host their first World Golf Championship event from next year.

“In South Africa we have such good golf courses and so many good players coming... I think there is no better place to have a World Golf event than in South Africa. It's nice to see more tournaments coming to South Africa.”

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