Confident Schwartzel eyes Perth prize

10/15/2012 7:17:37 AM
Dufner and Schwartzel join Perth line up  (Getty Images)
Dufner and Schwartzel join Perth line up (Getty Images)

Major Champion Charl Schwartzel will headline the inaugural edition of the ISPS Handa Perth International, the most lucrative tournament staged in Australia this year.

The 2011 Masters Tournament winner will be joined at Lake Karrinyup Country Club, in Western Australia, by the American pair of Jason Dufner and Bo Van Pelt, who between them have won a total of four US PGA Tour titles.

Schwartzel heads to Perth in fine fettle, having defeated World Number One Rory McIlroy and the American duo of Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods in the group stages of last week’s Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, before losing to an inspired Lee Westwood in the semi-final.

The 28 year old South African will be bidding to capture his eighth European Tour title at Lake Karrinyup CC, where his compatriots Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Gary Player have all triumphed in the past.

Schwartzel said: “I’m really looking forward to getting down to Perth, because my game feels like it’s very close to getting back to a high level. I’ve had a bit of a strange year, because I’ve been playing pretty well but the results just haven’t really come. But I played very well in Turkey last week, and to get to the semi-finals against eight of the best players in the world was very satisfying.

“I managed to beat Rory and Tiger, and any time you manage to take down the best two players in the world, then you are going to take a lot of confidence from that. So hopefully I can carry that form into this week and get an even better result.

“Australia is a great country, and a great place to play golf. There’s a great sporting heritage there, and the Australian people are mad about their sport – they are almost as good as South Africa!”  

World Number Ten Dufner, who lost out in a play-off to his Ryder Cup team-mate Keegan Bradley at the 2011 US PGA Championship, has enjoyed a stellar season, winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the HP Byron Nelson Championship, before claiming three points out of a possible four on his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah Country Club.

The US$2million tournament will mark Dufner’s first appearance in a regular European Tour event since finishing in a tie for third place behind Woods at the 2009 JB Were Masters in Melbourne.

“I have a real affinity for Australia, and have heard a lot of great things about Perth and Western Australia,” said Dufner.

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing another part of Australia, and hopefully I can continue my good record ‘Down Under’. I’m excited to have the opportunity to play in Western Australia for the first time, and I hope the local community will really support this great new event.”

Other notable names in the field include former Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey of England and Italian Edoardo Molinari, and Perth native Brett Rumford, also a winner of three European Tour titles and an ambassador to the 2012 ISPS HANDA Perth International.

The tournament will be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and The European Tour.