“You can’t arrive at a tournament and work on parts of your game,” he once said. And that has been the approach for Schwartzel ahead of this year’s first major – he’s been gearing up outside of competitive play.
The 2011 Masters champion tested out his game in Houston last week, shot 67 for the first round, and went on to finish in the top 20. His recent achievements are indicators of Schwartzel’s form and frame of mind.
There are few better stages for showdown than Augusta National Golf Club. When the 29-year-old from Vereeniging heads down those pristine fairways he’ll surely move straight into a winning mindset.
It was uncertain whether Schwartzel would make this year’s Masters, because he and his wife, Rosalind, were expecting their first child between April third and eighth. Olivia Schwartzel was born on March 20th, which meant a big change for the family.
“I think those sort of things can either work really in your favour or completely against you,” said Schwartzel. “It’s very seldom where it’s in-between in situations like that. I’m just really excited for our first child.”
Last year he was in with a good shout at the halfway mark of the Masters, but a difficult weekend led to him sliding back to a share of 25th. This year he’ll want to use his experience of Augusta to avoid a repeat occurrence.
“That golf course can very quickly get you,” he said. “If it goes wrong it feels like it’s really hard to stop. I just had one of those tough weekends. You feel like you’re not hitting bad shots but getting bad results and then eventually you do hit a bad shot and get a really bad result. It was one of those weekends you maybe want to forget.”
An Augusta veteran, a new father and a 17-time professional winner, Schwartzel is in the right frame of mind to be a real threat at Augusta. He’s had time to work on his game and this week he’ll put it to the test.