Date: October 13, 2008

Schwartzel wins in Madrid

Charl Schwartzel won the Madrid Masters after a flawless five-under-par 66 in the final round left him three shots ahead of second-placed Ricardo Gonzalez. The South African took a one-shot lead into the final round following scores of 69, 64 and 66 on the par-71 Club de Campo course, and he was in imperious form again, racking up two birdies on the front nine and three more on the way back. Argentinean Gonzalez, who came from nowhere with a nine-under-par 62 in the third round, threatened in patches to overthrow the South African atop the leaderboard, as did Englishman Robert Rock, who launched an early assault on the way to a stunning seven-under-par 64. Pablo Larrazabal had two early birdies but he lacked the same spark which ignited his nine-under 62 on Saturday and a 67 meant he finished third on 15-under. Andrew Tampion was the leading Australian in the field at eight-under, while Marcus Fraser – the equal leader after the opening round – was two strokes further back at six-under. Ultimately the classy Schwartzel was too strong, despite admitting earlier in the tournament he had been struggling with injury and illness. “I played very well again today,” said the 24-year-old after his third European Tour win. “I woke up this morning and felt a lot better than I have been feeling.” “I thought I ground it out nicely all week. I just managed to keep it going today.” The par-five seventh hole was a turning point in the battle between Schwartzel and Gonzalez. The former hit his second shot way right of the green, but produced a well controlled chip out of the trees to within three feet and sank the putt for birdie. Gonzalez, however, had a five-footer for birdie which slid wide, and he had to settle for a seventh successive par, allowing Schwartzel to creep three shots ahead. Rock, four groups in front, increased the pressure, his birdies coming in clusters at two, three and four, seven, eight and nine and then 12, 13, and 14, but Schwartzel turned the screw midway through the back nine. A sublime approach shot at 13 left him with a six-foot putt for birdie which he holed, and he moved to 18-under on the next hole with some equally impressive short play. Another birdie followed on the par-three 17th after he put his tee shot within six feet, all but clinching the title. Schwartzel admitted he was glad he took his father&aposs advice on Friday to not withdraw from the competition. He had considered pulling out because of a shoulder problem and a virus, but persevered following a telephone conversation with his father George. “I spoke to my Dad and he told me to tee off and see how I feel,” he said. “I haven&apost felt great. I had a shoulder problem and some sort of flu bug which has been going around – several other players on the Tour have had it.” “I&aposve been waking up in the mornings feeling achy and sore and not having any energy, but this morning I actually felt a bit better and I&aposm glad I kept my swing going the way it has been the past three days.” Rock was delighted with his final position and a performance which comprised scores of 70, 65, 71 and 64. “I played great the front nine,” he said. “I made a real mistake on the 10th – it was a wrong decision from the tee.” “But I&aposm absolutely happy with how I&aposve done. My goal for the week was to finish in the top 10 and it&aposs great.” “I have to check if I&aposve secured my card. Next week is also important but if I play half decent, I&aposll get it done.” Fourth Round of the Madrid Masters, Spain -19: Charl Schwartzel 69 64 66 66 -16: Ricardo Gonzalez 69 69 62 68 -15: Pablo Larrazabal 68 72 62 67 -14: Alvaro Quiros 74 66 66 64, Robert Rock 70 65 71 64 -12: Paul Waring 69 67 67 69 -11: Carlos Del Moral 69 67 67 70 -10: Jaidee Thogchai 69 69 67 69, Damien McGrane 69 68 68 69 -9: Jesus Maria Arruti 72 67 70 66, Rafael Cabrera Bello 74 68 66 67, Ignacio Garrido 70 68 67 70 -8: Sion E Bebb 69 68 68 71, Andrew Tampion (Australia) 75 63 65 73, Steve Webster 68 69 71 68 Also: -6: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 67 66 74 71 -1: Peter O Malley (Australia) 70 71 72 70 +6: Peter Fowler (Australia) 72 70 76 72