Charl Schwartzel | Player Profile | Nedbank Golf Challengeon October 25, 2011
In 2009, Charl Schwartzel travelled into the heart of the Namibian desert to find something he thought he might have lost forever. Always a quiet, almost shy individual, Schwartzel was worried that he had lost the fire in his game. “It used to be there,” he said. “When I turned pro, it was there, and then I don’t know what I did, but it sort of disappeared.” Those watching his performance in the 2011 Masters will not doubt that the fire was certainly there.
When Schwartzel won the Africa Open and Joburg Open back-to-back on the Sunshine Tour in 2010, he said with all the humility that has been the hallmark of his career, “I feel like I can beat anybody in the world”. At Augusta National Golf Club in April this year, the young South African did just that. With four birdies over the final four holes, Schwartzel took his place amongst the game’s elite in one of the most consummate victories ever witnessed on those hallowed fairways.
“I’ve always worked hard and I’m very particular about things. I think having that kind of personality helped me in the Masters. Around Augusta you need to be so precise. I mean, when you putt there you have to be exactly on the right line otherwise the ball just won’t go in. You have to know exactly where you want to place the ball on the fairway to give you the best shot into the green. It’s a very well thought out golf course, and it’s also the way I like to do things,” he said.
Schwartzel has been equally meticulous about the progression in his career, going through each stage and not in a hurry to skip any steps. After becoming the third youngest player at the age of 18 to earn a European Tour card, he perfected the art of winning on both the Sunshine Tour and European Tour.
At just 20 he had already joined the European Tour winner’s circle with victory in the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Championship, and at 22 had already competed in three of the four Majors. He became a master at closing out tournaments when he was in the hunt. And in the last two years in particular, he has taken his own understanding of his game to another level.
Schwartzel qualified for his first Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2006 through the new criteria that allowed a place in the field for the winner of the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit. He finished fifth, and revelled in realising a childhood dream that week. “My dad and I came to watch the tournament when I was younger. I was watching Ernie Els putting on the practice green. Then he left to tee off, leaving behind his golf ball. So I nipped under the rope and stole it.”Schwartzel returns to Sun City now very much a part of world golf’s elite, and no longer the wide-eyed youngster in the field.
And this could well be a case of third-time lucky for him. “I’ve always believed I can win any tournament I play in, and that there should be nothing standing in my way. But it’s easy to just say that. You have to go out there and prove it as well,” he said after his Masters triumph.
As arguably the best player over all four Majors this year, Schwartzel is primed to add Africa’s Major to his list of achievements.
Join the official Nedbank Golf Challenge Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get access to exclusive content, updates on the event as well as the chance to enter exclusive competitions.