Charl Schwartzel has been hard at work preparing for the SA Open and is looking to make a fast start to the second phase of his career after battling past a troublesome injury.
‘I’m feeling really good, actually. I had a nice time off,’ said Schwartzel.
‘Leopard Creek was a warm-up event for me because I didn’t know what to expect, so I was very happy to be there and playing and I was fortunate to play better than I thought I would. That sort of gave me the confidence to start this year. It was all about testing my hand, see where my game is at, but it felt really good.’
While many were enjoying a Christmas break, the former Masters winner was hard at work honing his game. He knows, though, that Thursday will be the real litmus test of his readiness for a long grind on the competitive circuit.
‘I’ve been practising for about two weeks for this. When you practise, everything feels good but what I found at Leopard Creek was that my bunker play was very average and at the end there I think that’s what cost me the tournament.
‘But you don’t realise these things until you play competitive golf, so for me to play this week – first tournament and luckily here in Johannesburg where we have played a lot of golf – is a great time to see where are the little weaknesses because it’s hard to pick them up in practice. In a tournament, you start seeing all the weaknesses and then you can work on those going forward,’ said Schwartzel.
The South African favourite has had plenty of time for thinking and is ready to make the most of what he calls he second phase.
‘The long lay-off has given me a bit of perspective because, you know, once something is forced away from you – and I was not able to play at all and not know when it’s going to heal – you appreciate it a bit more. A lot of things you’ve taken for granted for many years and suddenly you don’t have all those privileges and you have to build from scratch.
‘This is sort of the second phase of my career and I’m really looking forward to it.’