Wednesday, 09 March 2011
Charl Schwartzel  (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Having come second 12 months ago, Charl Schwartzel hopes to go one better at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral this week.

Last year's runner-up finish did wonders for the South African's profile in the States, and Schwartzel admits that seeing his friend and compatriot Ernie Els win made it an almost perfect week.

"I've got good memories of last year," he said. "Obviously Ernie was looking for a win that he has not had for a really long time and I was trying to make sort of myself known in America.

"At the end of the day, I would have loved to have won last year. I thought I played good golf, but when anyone shoots 66 in the last round, you know I think they are bound to win.

"Ernie played really well, and I think at the end of the day, for me, it still is a very good event. It's a World Golf event and it's my best finish. It showed me that I'm more than capable of playing against the guys out here."

Schwartzel has made a terrific start to the 2011 Race to Dubai, and sits fourth in the standings having finished no lower than eighth in his five strokeplay events.

The 26 year old was in particularly good form during The European Tour's South Africa swing, finishing second, fourth and fourth before winning the Joburg Open.

"I've got off to a good start again this year," said Schwartzel. "I played some really good golf down in South Africa and even in Abu Dhabi.

"This golf course, I have good memories and I see the wind is blowing again, which if I'm playing well, I like it when the wind blows."

On previous trips to the USA, Schwartzel has stayed at Els' house in Florida, but is now renting accommodation nearby with Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

"Ernie's house, he's very kind to us," he added. "He always says ‘Whenever you guys want, just come in and help yourselves and make yourselves at home'. I'm sure if I take my washing there, he's not going to do it, but his people will!"

Schwartzel, Els and Oosthuizen make a formidable South African contingent this week, and they are joined in the field by Rory Sabbatini - who is also in fantastic form after winning on the US PGA Tour last week.

"You want to be in these World Golf Championship events, and it's just phenomenal to be here," said Sabbatini, whose win was his first since surgery for skin cancer. "This is again another golf course that rewards good ball striking and once you get that done, you really have to putt well on these greens.

"We have seen in years past, you need to put some good numbers up here to be able to contend. And they have only had a fantastic role call of winners here and I'm looking forward to being out here this week."

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