The 2011 Masters champion recovered from an early drop at the second and, outside of a bogey at the Road Hole 17th, kept his card clean by making 83 percent of his greens in regulation.
“I was unfortunate on the 2nd, probably the only way you can’t hit it, I found. I had to take a penalty drop early on in the start of my British Open.
“You know, I felt like I had good momentum coming from the U.S. Open, played well there, you know, especially with my swing I was very happy. I felt like I was going out. The front nine here was obviously a lot more birdies to be taken and I was happy to take advantage of those. The back nine played tough, but you know, I still thought I hit some really good shots, had some good lag putts, which you need to do around here. So overall pretty happy with the way I started,” he said.
A string of three gains from the fifth to the seventh secured the round for the Vereeniging local, who finished one shot behind early leaders Robert Streb and Retief Goosen.
Schwartzel has rediscovered his swing, which he battled with throughout the course of 2014. As a former world number six there is little doubt about his capability, so it comes down to his confidence, which is pretty solid this week.
“Small little basics fall out of place, and the problem is that by the time you realise it, it’s gone so far that it takes just as long to fix it. Most of the time you fix it and then there’s another aspect of confidence to build up again that you’ve lost along the way. It’s been a journey, but it’s just all back to simple basics the way it was when I was an amateur. But it was hard to find,” he said.
Getting back to basics helped him shoot an opening five-under-par at The Old Course, which included 28 putts, and the nine-time European Tour winner is well positioned for the coming 54 holes.
“It takes a little bit of pressure off,” he said. “But there’s a long way to go. I just at least feel like I’m playing decent. Like I say, it’s a long way to go to make any sort of big statements, but I’m just feeling very comfortable.”