Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Despite tearing a stomach muscle which almost forced him to withdraw from the tournament, Charl Schwartzel is within striking range of claiming his second Major title at the US Open Championship.
The South African, who won the 2011 Masters Tournament, has suffered a variety of ailments this week, the most serious of which was detected in an MRI scan on Thursday.
Having been in too much pain to hit any shots on the practice range, Schwartzel was minutes from pulling out of the event on the opening morning, but decided to play through the pain barrier at the 11th hour.
And the decision has paid off handsomely as, despite being severely restricted by his injury, Schwartzel followed up his opening round of 73 with a 70 on the second day to sit four shots off the lead, held by Americans Jim Furyk, David Toms and Tiger Woods.
Schwartzel explained: “The MRI scan revealed I had a tear in the muscle on the right side of my stomach. I did it on Wednesday by overcompensating and adjusting my slightly swing after I’d hurt my shoulder and then my back.
“They said it could get worse if I kept playing, so I’ve now got a predicament. But I feel like I can still win this tournament, so I’m going to keep going. It’ll take four or five weeks to heal properly, and there’s nothing the physios can do to make it better. I just need to rest. The longer I play, the longer it might take to recover.
“I was very close to pulling out yesterday morning – they already had my name off the board on the first tee. I ran out of the locker room three minutes before my tee time without even hitting a ball, because I wanted to give it a go. I just chipped it down there off the first tee, and it was touch and go for most of the round whether I could continue. But the scoring’s so bad and I’ve been playing so well that I still fancy my chances of winning the tournament.
“This course doesn’t require perfection, you’ve just got to play clever and shape your shots, and you’re in with a chance. As long as I’m in contention I’m going to keep going, because it’s not your average tournament. I’d rather win the US Open and take four months off than not even try. If it was any other tournament I’d withdraw straight away, but I’m not going to withdraw from the US Open when I’m only four shots off the lead.”