Red-hot Schwartzel seeking a boost in his own backyard
Consistency has eluded him, but on familiar turf at the SA Open he might just find the antidote his game needs
His game feels like it’s in the stratosphere, but Charl Schwartzel just can’t shake that sinking feeling when it really matters.
He admits that this year outcomes have not been commensurate with output, but he hopes to put that right at the SA Open that starts on Thursday.
“I’ve had a really difficult year, but my game actually feels as good as it’s ever felt,” Schwartzel says at a stiflingly hot Randpark Golf Club.
Playing in familiar surrounds may just be the antidote his game needs this week.
“Maybe for me to come and play back home is something that I’m looking forward to. I’m obviously lacking a little bit of confidence, but my game is in great shape. Playing in South Africa has always been good to me, so I’m hoping for some more of the same.”
Schwartzel admits that consistency has eluded him.
“There always seem to be two good ones or three good ones and then somewhere along the line I struggle. It’s difficult for me to put my finger on what’s going on. I know I’m playing definitely as well as I’ve ever played – if not better.
“But then you’ve got this little thing called golf where you’ve got to put a score on the board and you’re judged on the way you’re playing on the results. That’s of course what you’re looking for, but I’m struggling to control that. I heard Matt Wallace saying high expectations are sometimes a killer for playing as well as you can play. In my case, it might be the same, because I feel like I’m playing so well that I’m expecting so much. It’s difficult to pin it down.”
If he tempers his expectations maybe the former Masters winner can make an impression here.
His game was certainly red-hot in the sweltering conditions this week.
He blazed his way around the par-71 Firethorn lay-out. “I shot a nine-under in the pro-am (on Tuesday). I’ve shot 62 and 63 this week. But that’s normal for me in the practice rounds over the last few months. It’s just a matter of getting that into play in a tournament.”
There are however a few South Africans who will bring some tournament form to their home Open. Justin Harding, a product of Lamar University in Texas but who calls Cape Town home, finished fourth in last weekend’s Mauritius Open.
Earlier this year he won the Indonesian Open and the Royal Cup, while placing second in the Asia-Pacific Golf Championship. He was tied fourth in the Taiwan Masters.
Another South African in buoyant mood is Dylan Frittelli after his fifth-place finish in Mauritius. He finished with a flourish, carding a 65.
Also in the field is American Kurt Kitayama who won last weekend’s Mauritius Open.