ItÂs essentially do-or-die for Charl Schwartzel in the PGA TourÂs FedEx Cup when this weekÂs Deutsche Bank Championship begins on Friday.
Sitting 71st in the FedEx Cup standings, the man from Vereeniging goes into the tournament right on the bubble, knowing he will be forced to head home if he isnÂt in the top 70 after this week.
However, Schwartzel can take comfort from quite a few different factors. Firstly, he seems to be finding form at just the right time. Last week he played some really consistent golf at the Barclays Championship, eventually finishing in a tie for 24th. In the weeks preceding the Barclays, he finished in ties for 14th at the Wyndham Championship, 59th at the PGA Championship and 24th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. HeÂs now made every cut since the Open, and eight of his last nine, and he seems to have built up the ideal momentum going into such a crucial event.
The 2011 Masters champion has also shown that he can challenge for victories this year. HeÂs recorded two top 10s on the PGA Tour, and another two on the European Tour, which came earlier in the year.
This week he will be gracing the par-71 TPC Boston course, which has consistently ranked as the easiest course of the post season on the PGA Tour, other than last year when it was second easiest. Birdies will no doubt be the key, and low scores will be the premium. But going low seems perfectly tailored towards SchwartzelÂs game. He lies fifth on the PGA Tour for birdies on par fours (TPC Boston has 11 par fours), and 28th on overall birdie conversion percentage.
He also lies 28th in final round scoring average, which must surely be a reflection on his mental fortitude going down the stretch. Add to the mix the closing four birdies he made to clinch the green jacket last year, and youÂve got a player who looks more than well equipped to deal with the immense pressure that could be on him come Labour Day Monday.
Schwartzel can also call on some fond memories of his previous visit to the TPC Boston. Last year, in the 2011 edition of the Deutsche Bank Championship, he was leading after two rounds, before finishing a very impressive tied 21st. And heÂs no stranger to the Playoffs either. Schwartzel made it all the way to the BMW Championship in the 2011 FedEx Cup, and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Tour Championship.
While some of his fellow contenders might just be looking to survive this week, Schwartzel will be in the market for a victory at TPC Boston. And donÂt be surprised if you see him teeing it up at the Tour Championship in three weeks Â Schwartzel has what it takes to go all the way.
By MIchael Todt