Monday, 14 March 2016
Charl Schwartzel   (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

Charl Schwartzel has never won three times in a year. However, the South African, who turned professional 14 years, now has three wins in his last six worldwide starts dating back to the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December.

With much of the focus on the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, Schwartzel, who notched his 15th professional victory last week in the US, is comparatively under the radar. The 2011 Masters champion finished last season ranked 50th in the world but woke up this morning in 21st thanks to a stunning run of form.

Since November 21 last year, Schwartzel has played seven times across the globe, winning three times and finishing in the top 20 in all but one of those events. He has the lowest scoring average of all players who have played more than three events this season.

Scoring

Having picked up a record fourth victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December, the 31 year old finished in the top ten at the Nedbank Golf Challenge before putting on a flawless display to win the Tshwane Open.

That week he become just the second player since 2009 to win a European Tour event whilst leading the field in Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation (the other was Byeong Hun An at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship)

So what's the key to Schwartzel's quick start to the season? 

He took some time off after his win in December and worked with his father on his swing to get back to where his game was when he took home the Green Jacket with four consecutive closing birdies at Augusta five years ago.

"He gave me all the old feelings and sort of things we used to work on that I had forgotten to work on again and made it very simple," Schwartzel said.

The South African has also been working hard with Dr Sherylle Calder on his putting alignment. 

Calder

"I've spent a lot of hours on the putting green," he said. "I'm trusting myself more and my eye-line is a lot better so I start the ball on line.”

The work seems to be paying off, with Schwartzel ranking inside the top 40 on the European Tour in both Putts per Round and Putts per GIR, having been outside the top 100 in both categories in 2015.

Putting

Schwartzel's two European Tour wins this season have been by a combined 12 shots over his nearest rival, winning the Dunhill Championship by four strokes before romping to the Tshwane Open title by eight. Marc Leishman is the only other player this season with a wining margin of four of more shots (six, Nedbank Golf Challenge).

With just three weeks until the Masters, Schwartzel has put his name among the favourites to win the first Major of the year. He is currently one of only four players under 35 with eight or more European Tour wins and at least one major (others: McIlroy, Kaymer and Oosthuizen).

"Augusta has always been a place I feel very comfortable with and for me the best thing of all of it is I've actually got my fade back. I grew up hitting a fade, I can fade the ball again and on that golf course hitting your second shots into those greens, it's really important to be able to do that."

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