Big stage suits Schwartzel

Charl Schwartzel shines under serious pressure, anyone who doubts it need only look to his performances at this year’s majors for proof.

Once again a gauntlet has been laid down, this time at the $7,000,000 WGC-HSBC Champions event at Sheshan International Golf Club starting Thursday.

And if Schwartzel needed a challenge from his playing partners then he surely has it – the 27-year-old will tee off with US Open Champion Rory McIlroy, fresh off last week’s Shanghai Masters win, and World number 12 Nick Watney.

Schwartzel has been on song throughout the year, taking 10 top-25 finishes in 15 starts on the PGA Tour, including his win at the Masters, which involved that famous four-consecutive-birdie finish.

He has not been slouching on the other side of the pond either, and currently holds third in the Race to Dubai and took a share of ninth at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

And the Masters champion performed well at home – he won the Joburg Open and shared fourth at the Africa Open in January before heading abroad.

The Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader finished tied 16th at the WGC-HSBC Champions event last year and finished tied 16th at the Shanghai Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club a week ago.

The added benefit of an extra week in the East Asian time zone is the acclimatization factor – Schwartzel’s participation in the Shanghai event will have allowed his body to grow accustomed to the conditions.

With Open Champion Darren Clarke, World number two Lee Westwood, World number four Martin Kaymer, defending champion Francesco Molinari and Players Champion KJ Choi all in attendance this week, the stage is set for a real showdown.

His ability to turn it on when the pressure mounts is undeniable, and the WGC-HSBC event has all of the right ingredients for another Schwartzel upset.

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