Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
The South African Open Championship will celebrate its 103rd playing with 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel leading the South African challenge at Glendower Golf Club from 21-24 November 2013.
Alongside World Number Four and defending champion Henrik Stenson, the home hero is one of the main draw cards in the first counting event on The 2014 European Tour International Schedule, and Schwartzel hopes to start the season on a winning note.
“I am really looking forward to the contest at Glendower,” he said from the host venue, where he was having a coaching session with 1985 SA Open winner and renowned coach, Gavan Levenson.
“It has always been my dream to win the SA Open trophy and for me, there is no bigger title outside the Majors for a South African to win”
Since his maiden pro breakthrough in the 2004 Dunhill Championship, Schwartzel has added a plethora of trophies to his mantle including the 2006 Vodacom Tour Championship, 2007 Open de Espana, 2008 Madrid Masters, 2010 Africa Open, 2010 and 2011 Joburg Opens and the Alfred Dunhill and Thailand Golf Championships last year.
But the Maccauvlei golfer will always be best remembered for the run of four consecutive birdies over the closing holes at Augusta Nationals that won him the Masters in 2011, a feat unprecedented in the 75 year history of the Masters.
Schwartzel became just the third South African to don the coveted green jacket and, just as he emulated Gary Player and Trevor Immelman at Augusta, he hopes to follow in their footsteps by winning the world’s second oldest national Open this November.
“I’ve had four top 20s and a couple of forgettable finishes,” said Schwartzel.
“In 2009, I played so badly that I was already at the airport to buy a ticket home when I got the call that I made the cut. In recent years though, I’ve tied for second and third, so I must be getting closer.”
The 29 year old had a taste of the emotions that comes with lifting the SA Open trophy when he won the Freddie Tait Cup as the leading amateur in the field in 2002.
“I watched Tim Clark receive the trophy and the joy, delight and pride was all over his face,” Schwartzel remembers. “I would like to experience that, because there is something indescribable about winning your national Open. Ours in steeped in history and some of the greatest players from this country and abroad have their names on this trophy.
“I still have a few goals and adding my name to that list is one of them. That said, the last time I played Glendower I was 14 and playing scratch league. But it is a fantastic venue for the South African Open and I look forward to the challenge.”
Schwartzel ranks 18th on the current Official World Golf Ranking. His best performances at the Majors was 14th at the US Open Championship and joint 15th at The Open Championship.
As well as securing victory at Leopard Creek, he also finished runner-up finish at the Joburg Open, tied fourth at the Maybank Malaysian Open and joint seventh in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Schwartzel will fly the South African flag in the Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned event alongside other top 10 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit contenders Darren Fichardt, Dawie van der Walt, Jaco van Zyl, Desvonde Botes and Jake Roos.
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