Charl Schwartzel makes his return to the PGA Tour at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. His last outing ended in a missed cut at The Masters and he surprisingly skipped The Players Championship last week. Unfortunately the world number 21 has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. His decision to skip the Olympics and his no-show at TPC Sawgrass last week puts the 2011 Masters Champion in a sticky situation.
Schwartzel may have disadvantaged himself going forward with his schedule. It’s perfectly normal for the top golfers to take lengthy breaks after Majors, but the 31-year old’s return is odd. Most of the top players had made their post-Masters comeback at Quail Hollow two weeks ago or at TPC Sawgrass this past weekend, yet the two-time PGA Tour winner skipped both for no apparent reason. This means that should the 11-time European Tour winner have any rust in his game, he may find himself missing the cut.
The Johannesburg-born golfer’s 2016 season includes five top-20 finishes, crowned by his victory at the Valspar Championship in March. The former SA number one held his nerve to topple Bill Haas in a play-off at the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead golf course. The field included Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, and Danny Willett and Schwartzel took huge confidence away with the trophy.
Schwartzel ranks 10th on the PGA Tour for Greens in Regulation, but this week faces several players coming off good finishes at The Players Championship, such as Colt Knost, Ken Duke and Matt Kuchar, who all finished in a tie for third. Time will tell whether the break taken by Schwartzel was good or if he has catching up to do. The hope is that we are looking where he is on the leaderboard come Sunday and not what he has to do Friday.