He tees it up this week in the AT&T Byron Nelson on Thursday, and it’s first tournament round since he missed the cut at the Masters on April 8. So he hasn’t played in six weeks, and while that’s not as long as the break he took over December and January, it’s no coincidence that he’s timed his return for just less than a month before the US Open.
Schwartzel has long felt that practice away from tournaments is more valuable for his game than grinding it out in tournament play, and his win in Pretoria certainly showed that. “I’m feeling really rested after the break,” said Schwartzel ahead of the Tswhane Open. “It was good to just be away from tournament pressures and to have time to just spend time with my family.
“And now I feel refreshed and ready to go again. I’ve practiced a lot, worked on the things that I was working on before the break, and, although I’ll have to see how things go under the pressures of tournament play, I’m happy with my game,” he added.
It’s pretty much the same at TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, for Schwartzel. So while his schedule is fairly radically curtailed by comparison to his peers – especially Louis Oosthuizen, who is also in action this week – he will take a degree of confidence into the tournament that should see him through the US Open too.
He takes good memories into the tournament, having finished third in it in 2011 and in a share of 11th in 2014. He has a PGA Tour win under his belt with the play-off victory in the Valspar Championship, and three top-20s in his previous four starts in the US.
Other South Africans in the field are Thomas Aiken, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Tyrone van Aswegen and Dawie van der Walt.