Sunday, 12 October 2008

Schwartzel the model of consistency at last - shows he's the "Real" thing at the Madrid Open.

Having turned a few heads in the last few tournaments with some sizzling performances, Charl Schwartzel has taken a step forward this weekend; showing he's capable of producing that form consistently enough over four round to take a great victory this weekend. And his tournament was the very model of consistency, no repeat of the birdie blitz one round and failing to back it up the next. All four rounds in the 60's - 69, 64, 66, 66, to finish on an excellent score of 19 under. All the more impressive is that in his final round, he picked up five birdies yes, but he didn't drop a single shot, which was the difference between him and his closest rivals today. And 19 under, that's got to be one of the lowest scores we've seen on the european Tour this year. It's a pity for Schwartzel that the challenge he faced was not greater.

Once more the field at an event in Mainland Europe was not the most auspicious. Most of the big names were absent, Miguel Angel Jimenez the only real big fish, apart from Jose Maria Olazabal. Nothing much happened for Miguel, today's decent 67 proving too little, too late, finishing way off the pace on 5 under tied for 29th, when a win would have propelled him to third in the Order of Merit standings. Olazabal's main aim would have been to make the weekend, he managed that by a single shot on Friday, and will probably not be too disappointed to finish 65th on 2 over par. This week was about getting back into the "swing of things", if you'll pardon the pun and I'm sure it cheered the home crowd to see Olly back playing when the news of Seve's hospitilisation hit - as the sight of so many Spaniardsup there challenging for places would have.

Of the men who were chasing ol' Charl, Ricardo Gonzalez got closest in the end. He had the same slow start to his round as he did yesterday, parring the first eight, getting to one under for the day with a 2 on the ninth. He didn't get the same reaction on the back nine however, only three birdies for the Argentinian today and a lonely bogey - a full six shots worse than what he got yesterday. Not that two under on the way in is bad, it just demonstrates what a ridiculous spurt of golf he produced yesterday. He earns a creditable second place finish for his efforts.

Pablo Larrazabal put in a good performance again, but seven birdies were not enough for him to haul in Schwartzel, even if he hadn't bogeyed three holes today, he would still have come up short, so comprehensive was Schwartzel's win. 15 under gives Larrazabal third and another wee boost in the rankings. He's another to be watching closely, there's no more passionate or agressive player out there, he's going to be big.

Tying for fourth were two players who hit the rounds of the day, both striking only 64 blows. The manner of their rounds were rather different. Englands Robert Rock took the more conventional route, and playing some sublime golf, looked ready to set a great target for the leaders, hitting three birdies in a row twice in his first nine holes, a sensational start. He did go on to have a third set of three consecutive birdies coming in, but two bogeys took the shine off of his round a little and the target he was settin for Schwartzel. Alvaro Quiros didn't have any bogey's in his final round, and only three birdies dotted his card, but two eagles in four holes at the par 5 fourth and seventh shot him up from 11th to fourth just like Rock. What a silly round to have.

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