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Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Defending champion Charl Schwartzel is desperate to replicate his form from last year's Joburg Open when the 2011 edition gets under way at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

The World Number 32 is the highest-ranked player in the field this week at what is the last of the four co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour events in South Africa.

Schwartzel has tended to enjoy the early season in his home country during recent years, and apart from the 2007 Alfred Dunhill Championship - where he missed the cut - he has rarely finished outside the top 30.

Twelve months ago he recorded rounds of 63, 68, 64 and 66 to eventually win by six shots on 23 under par, scores he would love to match this year.

"Last year was a spectacular tournament for me," he said.

"I played flawless golf and it was probably my best tournament of the year.

"My swing is not quite 100 per cent like it was last year but my mind is, so hopefully I can manage my way around this year."

His record in the three events of the season so far have been two fourth-place finishes as well as a runners-up spot and he added: "The good finishes I've had despite (his problems with his swing), well, I would put that down to experience and finding a way to put a score on the board.

"But I haven't got the confidence in my swing. I'd like to start feeling comfortable and be able to attack a bit more."

This week's event, the richest of the four in South Africa with a prize money total of €1,300,000, will be played over two courses on the first two days - the rounds are divided between the East and West courses, before the cut is made and the final two rounds are played on the East course.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, who is enjoying a decent start to the year after ending in 26th place at last week's Africa Open, is also relishing playing on a course he enjoys.

He added: "I really like this golf course and I think I said last year it's one of my favourites in South Africa.

"That East course is a proper test of golf. It's a fantastic challenge and I think the condition of the course is fantastic considering the amount of rain they have had in Jo'burg."

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