It’s been a strange old year so far for Charl Schwartzel, but as he prepares for this week’s Players’ Championship, he cannot be unhappy with his prospects in what is widely known as ‘the fifth major’.
He has played seven events on the PGA Tour, and two missed cuts are the results that stand out for South African fans of the 2011 Masters champion – and one of those missed cuts came in this year’s Masters.
But those two results would not be an accurate reflection of a start to the year which has also got two top-10 finishes in it, the birth of a first child and a change of management company, both of which must also have been somewhat disruptive to a routine which has centred solely around playing golf for so long.
He finished fifth in February’s Northern Trust Open and then took a share of ninth in March’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. His most recent result was an encouraging share of 14th in the RBC Heritage in April, with his closing two-over-par 72 the only reason he didn’t finish higher up.
It is with that knowledge – and a good break – that he goes into the Players Championship, ready to build the rest of the season which includes the other three majors for the year as well as a quest to improve on his 2014 season and win his first ordinary PGA Tour title – that excludes that Masters title, of course.
His 2014 season included five top-10 finishes, and he finished in a share of 55th in the Players’ Championship last year, where only his third-round three-over-par 75 was a source of frustration.
He has frequently said he finds out-of-tournament practice most valuable for his game, so this recent fallow period may be just the ticket ahead of his week at the Players’ Championship.