Charl Schwartzel hopes his intimate knowledge of the golf course at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate will boost his chances of joining the greats of South African golf and claiming the Investec SA Open Championship.
“I’ve come close a few times and that victory has so far evaded me. It’s one that I would really like to be able to win before I put away the golf clubs,” said Schwartzel.
The former Masters champion is part of a strong South African challenge that will be back on local fairways in their national Open, including Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli, MJ Daffue, Brandon Stone, Erik van Rooyen, Thriston Lawrence, Oliver Bekker, Shaun Norris and defending champion Daniel van Tonder.
Schwartzel will certainly be one of the favourites, having once had a home at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s tournament. I lived there for a few years and I’m very familiar with the golf course having played it numerous times.”
The South African has predicted that the golf course will provide a strong challenge for the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned field.
“The course will be a tough challenge. It’s already one of the longest golf courses in South Africa, and if it gets some rain and is wet that week it will play extremely long. If it’s playing firm, you’ll see some big tee shots because the ball goes a long way there.
“But I’ve always felt that this golf course is a second-shot golf course because the greens are the defence. They are big but you have to be very precise with your distance control coming into them. I would say good iron play will serve you very well that week.”
Schwartzel has come close to winning his national Open a few times but has yet to add his name to this historic trophy. He has twice finished second, in January 2005 and then again in 2015 when he lost in a playoff to England’s Andy Sullivan. He also finished fourth in 2010 in the centenary edition of the tournament.
“I’ve always tried to play in the Investec South African Open Championship,” he said. “From a historical point of view, it would be an amazing tournament to be able to win as the second-oldest national Open in golf. As a South African it would be a privilege to have that under your belt. Any golfer wants to win their national Open and it would mean a lot to me.”