Charl Schwartzel will bring a bit of time away from tournament golf as his most potent weapon to the South African Open Championship which gets underway at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.
The 2011 Masters champion described how a busy schedule mitigated against keeping his precision game in peak condition as he prepared to launch an assault on the title that means the world to all South African players.
“You’re away for so long that you get to a stage towards the end of the year where you look forward to playing a few tournaments back here at home,” he said. “You’re on familiar soil and that in itself picks up your game a little bit. I also get a chance to see my dad and work on a few faults that normally creep in towards the end. I think that’s part of why I’ve always played well at these tournaments in South Africa.”
And more than the advice of his father, the ability to simply be able to practice is what Schwartzel craves when his schedule sees him jet-setting around the world.
“When you play in tournaments week-in and week-out, you have to restrict the amount of time you practice,” he explained, “and that starts letting small errors creep in. And eventually, those small errors turn into double-bogeys or worse on your scorecard, and that kind of thing means you’re not in a position to win tournaments.”
That’s what’s happened to him in 2013, a year which has seen him win just once, at the Nanshan China Masters on the OneAsia Tour.
“I’ve had a pretty consistent year taking top 20s at pretty much every tournament,” he said. “In a way it was frustrating, but I know how close it was to stepping it up and winning tournaments. It doesn’t take much more than what I did this season. I did get a nice win in China and I hope that I can continue to pick up a few more wins before the finish of the year.”
With a best finish of a share of second in the South African Open back in 2005 to his credit, he’s keen to make that title the first of the few more: “I want to win it. I don’t put any pressure on myself. If I don’t win it now I’ll win it some other time. My time will come. It’s unnecessary to put that kind of pressure on yourself. Being the favourite is a nice confidence booster. You can feed off people thinking that you might win.
“At the end of the day I know how to win and I know how to play the game. You can’t get ahead of yourself and those factors sometimes make you get ahead of things. You’ve got to stay level-headed and stick by your plan. If I play well then I’ll be up there, whether I win or not… we’ll find out,” he said.