Charl Schwartzel has been named The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for April following his outstanding triumph in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
Schwartzel, who receives an engraved alms dish and a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne, completed a unique “Grand Slam” of Major Championships for European Tour Members following the 2010 treble by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (US Open), South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (The Open Championship) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (US PGA Championship).
Furthermore Schwartzel’s success – the third by a South African in the Masters Tournament following Gary Player and Trevor Immelman – was achieved during a phenomenal month for European Tour Members.
England’s Lee Westwood regained and maintained his World Number One status with back-to-back wins in the Indonesian Masters and Ballantine’s Championship; Italy’s Matteo Manassero captured his second European Tour title by winning the Maybank Malaysian Open two days before his 18th birthday; and Nicolas Colsaerts became only the second Belgium winner on The European Tour with his breakthrough win in the Volvo China Open.
Bill Elliott, Chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “The greatest month for individual European Tour player success that I can recall. Anyone could have been a winner, especially the astonishingly young Manassero and also Westwood with two wins and his return to number one, but the Masters is a tournament apart. For anyone to win it is a career-defining moment, for someone to win it with the class and élan showed by Schwartzel makes his achievement this year even more special than usual.”
Schwartzel, who dedicated his Masters victory to his father, George, because “I owe him so much,” recalled: “I caddied for my Dad two days a week and played golf with him every Friday. That’s how it started. He taught me my golf swing. He taught me from the word go the right grip, stance, rhythm, posture and balance. It was a fantastic week; a fantastic month.”
The judging panel, which comprised members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as commentators from radio and television, acknowledged Schwartzel’s four-birdie finish for a closing best of the day 66 and a winning 14-under par total of 274 and also praised Luke Donald’s tied fourth place finish at the Masters followed by his runners-up finish in The Heritage tournament on the PGA Tour where he was a finger-touch away from going to Number One in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Schwartzel is the fourth monthly winner of 2011 – the 26-year-old from Johannesburg joining Martin Kaymer (January), Luke Donald (February) and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (March). All the monthly winners will be considered for The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award which was won jointly by Kaymer and McDowell in 2010.