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South African Beat
The final round of the WGC-CA
Championship on Sunday at Doral was
an international affair with an extra
strong South African flavor. Ernie Els,
a golf icon in his native land, dueled
most of this Wizard-of-Oz-like windy
afternoon in south Florida in the
final group with countryman Charl
Schwartzel, 15 years his junior.
You could almost imagine Els putting
his hand on Schwartzel’s shoulder at
one point and whispering in Afrikaans,
“We’re not in Joburg any more, Charl.”
To be sure, they were in Miami.
Meanwhile, somewhere over the
rainbow, lurked Irishman Padraig
Harrington, who in three days will be
spending the day at the White House
with Barack O’Bama (we’re not making
this up. OK, maybe we fooled with
the spelling of POTUS’ last name) for
St. Patrick’s Day. Harrington would
Schwartzel, for his part, idolized Els
when he was learning the game. Els,
for his part, was duly impressed with
the two Euro Tour victories Schwartzel
had secured already this season.
In the end, there was no getting
around the importance of being Ernie
at Doral’s Blue Monster. He won by four.
Put him down on the short list of early
favorites to win his coveted first Masters
three weeks from now in Augusta.
Put runner-up Schwartzel, 25, on
the short list of the best players in the
world under the age of 30.