Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel is hoping to continue his fine form after claiming his first title since becoming a Major Champion in Thailand last week.
The South African tees up at Leopard Creek for the Alfred Dunhill Championship – an event he won in 2005 for his first European Tour victory.
After winning the Masters Tournament in April 2011 Schwartzel now has seven European Tour titles, and incredibly four of them have come on home soil – placing the 28 year old firmly amongst the favourites this week.
Schwartzel’s chances were given a further boost when he ended a 20-month wait for a victory at the Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday, where he surged clear of a strong field for an 11 shot wire-to-wire win.
“It’s been a tough year,” said the World Number 23. “I haven’t played well and I picked up an injury, so it was nice to finally start playing better golf. It was even better to see things fall in place last week.
“It was just one of those weeks. I hit so many good shots and gave myself so many chances, and when I did hit the odd bad shot I managed to make some good saves. Those are the key, they’re probably bigger than most of the birdies. They keep the momentum going and you seem to make a birdie the very next, and it’s such a swing mentally to be able to do that. It was nice to play that solid and not make many bogeys.”
The stunning Leopard Creek is one of the most spectacular venues on The European Tour, and Schwartzel admits that was a factor in his decision to try and grab some early momentum on The 2013 Race to Dubai.
“I’m just physically very tired,” he added. “If this wasn’t Leopard Creek I would not have played. If it was any other tournament I would have pulled out, but this is one of those golf courses that I like the most. You don’t get much better than the setting at Leopard Creek, and I figured I could get myself going on that.
“I’m not hitting it that well, but that’s just my body being tired. I suppose there are so many factors here. The golf course does suit my eye, and I like what I see. I love being out in the bush, and you don’t get much more in the bush than this.
“It’s such a relaxing atmosphere, and of top of that the course is in such great shape. All of those things go my way.
“I’m trying to finish the season now, in a way I’m not thinking about any starts! But it would be nice to do well here and contend. You just want to get your name up on the board; it’s always nice to get off to a good start, because it just sets the momentum for the year coming.”