Masters winner Charl Schwartzel was the subject of ESPN’s “Sunday Conversation.”
Editor’s Note: ESPN.com golf editor Kevin Maguire gives Front Row a look at how the 2011 Masters unfolded from his perspective.
FR: Is Charl Schwartzel’s Masters victory the sign of great things to come for him?
Maguire: He’s good friends with Louis Oosthuizen, who won the British Open last year at St. Andrews. At the same time Oosthuizen won, I believe Golf Digest had on its cover a picture of what they called the next great South African golfer. It wasn’t Oosthuizen. It was Charl Schwartzel.
He comes from a long line of impressive golfers from that country. Do I think he could win more majors? Absolutely. He’s very young, certainly has the game, has won seven times on the European tour. I don’t think he’s a one-and-done kind of guy.
FR: How did the drama Sunday compare to the other Masters you’ve covered?
Maguire: It was amazing, plain and simple. To look at how many different players had a chance to win the Masters on the Back 9 Sunday, I can’t remember a time in recent memory where we had that many opportunities . . . The old axiom is, ‘the Masters doesn’t begin until the Back 9 on Sunday.’ This year, that was really true. There were nearly a
dozen guys who had a legitimate shot to win the Masters. It was completely impossible to pick, as we’re trying to determine storylines. I’m talking to [ESPN.com columnists] Gene Wojciechowski and Rick Reilly and Bob Harig. Who’s covering which story and which angle? Usually, in most golf tournaments you can say, ‘Oh, there’s three
or four guys who have a legit shot,’ and you can kind of balance things out.
FR: How did you allot the story assignments?
Maguire: In some ways, it’s more difficult when there’s uncertainty at the end. But ultimately, when it’s that interesting and that exciting, something great is going to happen. And it did.
Charl Scwhartzel birdied the last four holes to win the Masters. You’re just not going to see that every day, if ever again. The challenge is more of a logistical challenge at a place like the Masters, because reporters and media can’t get inside the ropes. At most PGA tour events, and at all of the other majors, [reporters] can get inside the ropes. You can get a closer look at what’s going on with individual players, see something with your own eyes. At the Masters, they don’t allow that kind of access.
So it’s a challenge to say who’s going where, who’s covering what. . . I had Gene Wojciechowski write about Rory McIlroy, because anyone who’s the 54-hole leader who falls off the map like he did, people are going to want to read about. They want to read about the train wreck.
You’ve also got the winner [Schwartzel] whom Bob Harig wrote about, all the insights that came from that finish. And Rick Reilly wrote about Tiger Woods and how amazing it was that [Woods] got as close as he did. Everybody wants to read about Tiger.
FR: What were your overall impressions of your latest visit to Augusta?
Maguire: It’s kind of like a place back in time. Imagine they’ve dropped this majestic golf course in the middle of northeast Georgia and turned back the clock maybe 40, 50, 60 years. Everybody says ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no ma’am.’ That’s the personality of the place.
As a golfer and a golf fan, and also working in golf, it’s the perfect storm for being able to cover a golf event. I always say that as long and as difficult as the weeks are, it’s better than working for a living — even if they are 18-hour days.