It’s going to turn sometime. Charl Schwartzel believes it. He believes that the low rounds in practice and the great shots on the range are soon going to filter through into a tournament week. And he’s hoping it’s this week in the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg.
Schwartzel comes into this week’s tournament at Randpark knowing better than anybody that he hasn’t delivered the results in tournaments this year. And it’s frustrated him the most.
‘I’ve had a really difficult year. My game feels as good as it’s ever felt. I’m obviously lacking a little bit of confidence, so I’m looking forward to playing back home,’ he said after Tuesday’s pro-am and ahead of a tournament that’s drawn a quality field in fellow Major champions Ernie Els and Louis Oostuizen, along with prolific Englishman Matt Wallace and a crop of local stars including Branden Grace, Dylan Frittelli, Shaun Norris and Justin Harding. Apart from Els, the rest are all ranked within the top 100 on the Official World Golf Rankings.
‘It’s usually two good rounds or three good rounds and then somewhere along the line I struggle. It’s just difficult for me to put my finger on what’s going on.
‘But I know I’m definitely playing as good as I’ve ever played, if not better. On the range it’s great, practice rounds are great, and everything I’m doing in terms of the control of my game is great. But then you’ve got this little thing called golf where you’ve got to put a score on the board, and you judge the way you’re playing by your results. And results [are where] I’m struggling to control.’
Another ‘little thing’ the top professionals struggle to control is expectation.
‘Having high expectations are sometimes the killers to playing as well as you can play, and in my case it’s the same. I’m playing so well that I’m expecting so much, and I’m trying to suppress it, but it’s difficult,’ said Schwartzel.
It was a similar view expressed by Wallace, who at number 44 in the world is the second-highest ranked player after Oosthuizen in the SA Open hosted by the City of Joburg.
Wallace is in Joburg as a player who at the beginning of the year was just hoping to retain his European Tour card, and then won three times in 2018 and broke into the top 50 in the world for the first time.
‘I feel like I can win every time I tee it up, but that’s when I play my worst – when I expect to go and win,’ Wallace said.
‘I don’t play well when my expectation levels rise. I’ve learnt this year to have less expectations, but it’s difficult, because with great success comes higher expectations.’
So Schwartzel will continue to do the same and manage his expectations and remain patient, confident in the knowledge that it will turn sometime.
Will that be this week?
‘Who knows? I shot 62 in the pro-am,’ he said.
Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images