The Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is good at what he does best

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It was an hour after midnight, and Charl Schwartzel was about to give up golf. An enormous mistake had haunted the South African all week, and he had been carrying it ever since.

His game was suffering, and so was his marriage. Finally, he told his wife, Charlene, what was going on.

“I looked at Charlene, and I said, ‘I’m putting my love out there to do a favor for me, and I’ve got to do something,’ ” he recalled after he won the Masters last week. “‘I’ve got to work through this, and I’ve got to say some tough things to my wife.’”

In the end, Schwartzel had to cut his losses, and he had to hit a critical shot. He had to fire an approach shot that found the left side of the 5th green, requiring him to hole a tricky 10-foot putt for a birdie to make the cut. He made it, though he looked not entirely comfortable.

“I was thinking too much,” he said. “I wasn’t trusting the lines I was hitting, and I’m feeling the pressure of the tournament. So I was struggling on every turn of the hole. So a little bit of a case of ‘Oh my God, is this what I thought it was going to be like?’”

The question of where Schwartzel goes from here remains unanswered. His game is not ready to rise to the level of contention he enjoyed with his two Masters victories, and his short game remains unreliable. The South African is 24, but at 5-foot-11 and a trim 185 pounds, he is physically unsophisticated. He said he is “not where I want to be,” and he is not making excuses.

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