By Mark Lamport-Stokes
MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Charl Schwartzel has never had the feeling before or since but somehow he just knew he was going to win last year's Masters before teeing off in the final round.
The slender South African was four strokes off the pace after 54 holes at Augusta National and went on to clinch his first major victory by two shots with a scintillating birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish.
"I woke up that morning and I felt like I was going to win," Schwartzel told reporters at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Tuesday while preparing for this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
"I honestly did. I had this complete calmness about it, too. That was the best part about it. It's all good to say I'm going to win today, but if you are all nervous inside then you actually have doubts.
"I felt so calm and I was so convinced that I could do it. Obviously I couldn't have asked for a much better start. That put me right in there."
Schwartzel launched his final round with a birdie-par-eagle run on the way to a six-under-par 66, the lowest score of the day, as he became the third South African to win the Masters.
"At Augusta, I was playing so consistently but (before the final round) I never got on a birdie run where you make two or three birdies in a row to move your score up the board," said the 27-year-old, a seven-times champion on the European Tour.
"I felt like I was playing so well and I was in control of it. You don't get that feeling very often. I might have had glimpses of it before but never as much as I had that specific week."
Asked whether his status as a major champion could help him intimidate opponents at this week's Accenture Match Play Championship, Schwartzel replied with a smile: "I hope so. Any intimidation I can put onto my playing partner is good.
"Anyone in this field wants to win those tournaments (majors) and if a guy achieves that, it puts him in almost a different category and guys look at him differently. I do think it plays a bit of a role."
Schwartzel has been drawn to play big-hitting American Gary Woodland in Wednesday's opening round at Dove Mountain but feels that good putting rather than power driving will be a more significant factor this week.
"It's always great to have length especially in this golf course," the South African said of the 7,791-yard layout. "It's pretty wide open and if you can hit it a long way down, you have got advantage.
"But these greens are this golf course's defense. If you hit in the wrong places, you are going to lose the hole. So I think there's a lot more to hitting it far on this golf course."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)