With birdies at his last four holes, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel fired a superb closing round of 66 to win the 75th US Masters by two shots from the Australian duo of Jason Day and Adam Scott.

Schwartzel began the day five shots behind Rory McIlroy but he quickly got on terms with the young Northern Irishman. The South African opened with a chip-in birdie then holed his second shot to the par-4 3rd for an eagle two. As McIlroy faltered with a bogey at his opening hole, Schwartzel took a share of the lead.

It was a terrible day for McIlroy in the end. He was out in one-over-par and was still in contention at the turn. But a triple bogey seven at the 10th hole was followed by a bogey then a double bogey at the 12th. He limped in with an 8-over-par 80, finishing in a tie for 15th.

As the back nine unfolded, a host of players looked like potential winners including former World Number 1 Tiger Woods. He raced to the turn in 31 to reach 10-under-par. But he couldn’t make any further progress on the back nine and finished on a 10-under total.

At that time Woods held the clubhouse lead but it was swiftly matched by Geoff Ogilvy then Luke Donald of England. Donald might have been a contender for the title had he not suffered a double bogey at the treacherous par-3 12th. He bounced back with birdies at the 13th and 15th and, after giving a shot back on the 17th, he chipped in for birdie at the closing hole to finish 10-under.

Playing together, the Australian pair of Adam Scott and Jason Day bettered the mark of 10-under. Scott birdied the 14th and 16th holes to reach 12-under-par and Day joined his countryman on that total with birdies at the last two holes.

At that stage a playoff looked possible as Schwartzel had reached the same score with birdies of his own at the 15th and 16th. But the South African was not done. He holed a fantastic putt across the 17th green to get to 13-under-par then sealed the victory with another birdie at the closing hole.

It was a first Major victory for Schwartzel and a fourth consecutive Major title by a member of the European Tour.

Final totals

1    Charl Schwartzel (RSA)      69   71   68   66   274
T2   Jason Day (Aus)         72   64   72   68   276
T2   Adam Scott (Aus)         72   70   67   67   276
T4   Tiger Woods (USA)      71   66   74   67   278
T4   Geoff Ogilvy (Aus)      69   69   73   67   278
T4   Luke Donald (Eng)      72   68   69   69   278
7   Angel Cabrera (Arg)      71   70   67   71   279
T8    Bo Van Pelt (USA)      73   69   68   70   280

T8   K.J Choi (Kor)         67   70   71   72   280
10   Ryan Palmer (USA)      71   72   69   70   282

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only