Schwartzel hopes to get mojo back in 2016

CHARL Schwartzel’s confidence has taken a knock after two tough years on tour, but he says that could be rectified if he were to be victorious at next year’s South African Open. The 2011 US Masters champion was speaking yesterday at the announcement of BMW as the new title sponsor of the European co-sanctioned tournament at the Glendower Golf Club from January 7 to 10.

“I have made big steps [in terms of] improvement – huge steps – some parts of the long game are better than they have ever been,” he said.

“[But] there’s a factor of having two years where you are not playing well that breaks your confidence,” Schwartzel said when asked what a win at the SA Open might do for him.

“So the biggest win for me would be to build confidence back up because the physical part of the game is in very good shape, but there are a lot of factors in this game to play well.

“You need to be very confident, but that’s also taking steps. Winning tournaments like this sets you up, boosts your confidence.”

The SA Open has been won by almost all of South Africa’s greats, with Schwartzel being one of the rare exceptions, although he has come close.

At the past two editions he has blown leads in the final round.

Schwartzel lost to Englishman Andy Sullivan in a playoff for the crown this year after squandering a five-shot lead going into the final round.

The previous time he was three strokes up at one stage before imploding.

He would have every reason to hate the tight Edenvale layout, but Schwartzel says he likes it.

“I’m excited to come back. It’s a golf course that has actually treated me well,” he said.

“Two years in a row I have had chances to win, good chances, but there are a lot of good players out there and I have not finished it off well.

“For me it’s a positive that I have come close and not so much of a negative,” Schwartzel, ranked 54 in the world, said.

He intends enjoying a holiday before diving back into action next year.

“I’ve got a nice long break, which I feel I need. I have been flying around the world now a few times and it’s taking its toll,” he said, adding he would prepare well for the SA Open.

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are playing 95% of our golf at sea level and now we are playing at 5 000 feet (1 500m).

“There’s a big difference between club selection, wind affecting the ball … preparation is important,” he said.

Apart from the four majors next year, 2016 will see golf return to the Olympic menu for the first time since 1904, but Schwartzel said it was not high on his radar.

“It’s not something that I see as such big importance for me,” he said. “In golf you have got the four majors, so the focus will still be more for those tournaments.

“If I do play it’ll be great, if I don’t play I’m not going to be sulking about it.”

The two highest-ranked South Africans will have first dibs to compete at the Rio Games. Schwartzel is third behind Louis Oosthuizen (13th) and Branden Grace (20).

-David Isaacson




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