Charl plays Masters with Jack’s advice ringing in his ears

Charl Schwartzel played his second round at the Masters with some advice from Jack Nicklaus ringing in his ears and set himself up nicely for a shot at the green jacket over the weekend.

He carded a one-under-par 71 to move to four-under for the tournament, six shots off the lead of Rory McIlroy, but close enough to the sharp end of the action to feel just a tinge of confidence ahead of the final 36 holes.

“I had advice last year from Jack Nicklaus,” he said. “He took me through every single hole the way he used to play it when he played. You can’t get much better advice than that.”

The 26-year-old South African winner of the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit was at the home of Ernie Els last year during the Els for Autism tournament, as was the great 18-time major champion, and he sat enthralled as Nicklaus talked about playing Augusta National where he won six of those majors.

“I tried to take notes,” laughed Schwartzel. “I was in such awe. Luckily Mr. Johan Rupert was sitting there and he also remembered what he was saying. Like I say, you can’t get better advice than that.”

After his first Masters last year finished with a share of 30th, Schwartzel is already applying that advice with success. “I’ve had lots of advice from people, but you have to experience it for yourself,” he said.

And that experience showed as he had a long approach putt on the 18th, and the memory of a three-putt on that green in his opening round to keep him a little nervous. “I played with Ernie in the practice round and he chipped from the left side of the green, which looked to be a very good little chip, a chip-and-run. And he went at the hole, and it went down and it actually went off the green.

“I think if I didn’t play with him, I probably would have putted it at the hole and tried to let it just trickle down. I just decided that the risk was too high, after witnessing what Ernie did in the practice round, I just went to the left and figured the longest I’m going to have is six feet if I hit a decent putt up there.”

He made his par: “I was happy with that two-putt,” he said.

It put him at the head of the South African contingent – not that that made him feel any extra pressure. “You have a lot of guys up there, you’re not really looking at your fellow players or South Africans,” he said.

“For me, I’m trying to get myself in position to win. I’ve got to beat all of them if I want to win the tournament.

“You know, it’s my time if I play well. It’s the Masters; anything can happen.”

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