The clock is ticking on Charl Schwartzel.

He may be a Masters champion for the rest of his life, but he's only got another month left with his green jacket. That's because since the early 1960's, Augusta National has required all winners to return their famed wardrobe prize after a year. It's a rule that is not lost on the South African.

"I wore it I don't know how many times. It traveled with me the whole of last year," Schwartzel said on a Tuesday conference call. Basically every single function that we went to, I wore it."

After birdying the final four holes of the 2011 Masters to win in epic fashion, Schwartzel headed to the Malaysian Open and pictures surfaced of him wearing the jacket in flight. The fashionable badge of honor hasn't left his side for the past 11 months, and he claims to have worn it at nearly 25 functions. He wanted to make the most of his time, and leaving it at home wasn't an option because he's only there every eight weeks or so.

"I took it with me. I never put it in a suitcase. I had it in my hands every time," Schwartzel said. "Only risk I suppose you take is when you go out to play the tournament and you have to leave it in the cupboard in the hotel room."

The green jacket was awarded to the winner of the tournament beginning in 1949, but members of Augusta National had been wearing them since 1937. They figured the bright jackets would be easy to spot for anyone in the gallery who had a question or needed assistance. For more than a decade after they were put on the shoulders of the champion, there were no rules regarding their return to the clubhouse.

Gary Player is believed to be the first person asked to bring back the green jacket after his victory in 1961. However, Player told the man calling from Augusta, Ga., that if he wanted it, he could fly to South Africa and pick it up. Instead they struck a deal. Player could keep the jacket if he promised to never wear it in public. A new one would be furnished for him while at the Masters from then on.

With rare exception, all other winners have abided by the one-year rule. Contrary to public opinion, the jackets don't hang in lockers with the champions' names on them. There is a temperature- and humidity-controlled room at the club where they are carefully supervised, readied for their owners in April, then checked back in after the tournament.

Schwartzel still has a little bit of time to make some memories with his, but thus far hasn't done anything crazy. Phil Mickelson, however, wore his green jacket two years ago while picking up some doughnuts at a Krispy Kreme drive thru.

There is another way Schwartzel can keep a green jacket with him after April: Win the Masters again.

"That's the plan," he says.

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