Charl Schwartzel believes he is playing some of his best golf and his opening round 68 seems to match that thought, writes WADE PRETORIUS at Sun City.
‘I said at the beginning of the week, this is about as good as I’ve ever played,’ he said as he tucked into the group in second place after round one.
Schwartzel was taking away many of the positives as his game withstood the early morning conditions that tested the field with swirling headwinds and fast greens.
‘This morning I thought it was difficult. The wind blew a lot in the beginning and the first few holes were all straight into the wind.
‘You know, on this course, starting off here is key. Got off to a good start, made one bogey today and was on 8. The wind turned on us so came up way short. Drove the ball really well, basically hit the ball really good.’
The 2011 Masters champion has been around the block once or twice and knows that the tournament is never won on a Thursday.
‘This golf course, you can never take it for granted until the 72nd hole. It really tests you every single hole, every single shot you hit. You know, you’ve got to stay committed, keep firing and if you pull off the shot it’s going to be your week,’ he said of his approach as he watched playing partner Garcia storm ahead.
A low-key threeball awaits the popular South African on Friday as he starts in the penultimate group with France’s Benjamin Hebert and China’s Ashun Wu.
First round leaderboard:
64 – Sergio Garcia
68 – Mike Lorenzo-Vera , Mikko Korhonen , Charl Schwartzel
69 – Ashun Wu , Benjamin Hebert , Andy Sullivan , Matt Wallace , Louis Oosthuizen , Jason Scrivener
70 – Ryan Fox , Branden Grace
71 – Lee Westwood , Shane Lowry , Ross Fisher , Andrea Pavan , Jorge Campillo , Tapio Pulkkanen , Matthew Fitzpatrick , Haotong Li
72 – Joost Luiten , Joakim Lagergren , Chris Paisley , Dean Burmester , Matthias Schwab , Aaron Rai , Richard Mcevoy , Rory McIlroy , Paul Waring , Renato Paratore
73 – Sam Horsfield , Wade Ormsby , Dylan Frittelli , Padraig Harrington , George Coetzee , Andrew Johnston
74 – Lee Slattery , Hideto Tanihara , Marcus Kinhult , Nacho Elvira , Pablo Larrazabal , Julien Guerrier , Shubhankar Sharma , Darren Fichardt , Adrian Otaegui , Brandon Stone , Trevor Immelman
75 – Tom Lewis , Thomas Detry , Robert Rock , Oliver Fisher , Alexander Bjork , Kiradech Aphibarnrat , Gavin Green , Lucas Bjerregaard , Nicolas Colsaerts , Maximilian Kieffer
76 – Martin Kaymer , Lucas Herbert , Thomas Aiken , Thomas Bjorn
77 – Erik van Rooyen , Richard Sterne , Jens Dantorp , Stephen Gallacher
78 – Danny Willett , Paul Dunne , Ashley Chesters , Matthieu Pavon
79 – Jordan Smith
80 – Matthew Southgate
81 – Alexander Levy