Glendower Golf Club was confirmed on Wednesday as the venue for next year’s South African Open … and a most unlikely golfer went in to bat for the Edenvale course that will host the second-oldest national open for the third straight year.
Charl Schwartzel has led in the final round of the two previous SA Opens held at Glendower, in January this year and in November 2013, but on both occasions it ended in tears.
Schwartzel squandered four shots in the last five holes of the 2015 SA Open and then lost on the first hole of the playoff to Sullivan as his wayward tee-shot went miles off track. The previous Glendower SA Open saw Schwartzel leading by three shots four holes into the final round, before he faded to a 71 after a triple-bogey on the sixth and a double on 10, and finished three behind winner Morten Orum Madsen.
“I’m excited to come back here because I don’t see it as being two disappointments. I see it as a course that has treated me well, for two years in a row I had chances to win, but there are a lot of very good players out there. Glendower suits me well, and to know that I came so close to winning here is a positive because now I have another opportunity.
“You have to play cleverly here, think your way around, it requires a lot of strategy and thinking, which is right down my alley. Modern-day courses are often wide open and they allow guys to get away with playing badly, the course plays into so many hands. But you don’t have that freedom here, if you don’t stick to the right lines here then the course will catch you,” Schwartzel said at Glendower on Wednesday.
Schwartzel is known for putting in an enormous amount of preparation and strategizing when it comes to the major golf tournaments and he said he would be returning to Glendower a couple of weeks before the 105th South African Open tees off on January 7.
“The four Majors are by far the most important tournaments and you obviously focus more on those, but this tournament obviously has some degree of importance for me as well. Personally, it’s the same as the Majors and other big tournaments for me in that I prepare the same. Ninety-five percent of our tournaments are at sea-level, but here you’re at 5000 feet and it makes a big difference in club-selection.
“So preparation is important, I want to get comfortable with the course even though I know it well, make sure about the lines off the tee. It’s how I prepare for the Majors and if you do that then the expectation goes away and you’re able to handle the pressure.
“I hope it works out, but if it doesn’t I’ll try again. I can only control what I do and if someone plays better than me then so be it,” Schwartzel, who has never won the SA Open, said.
The 2011 Masters champion said he hoped the SA Open would remain the sort of tournament children are told about when they sit on the knees of their grandfathers.
“When you see the passion of Ernie Els [tournament host] to play in it, it’s inspiring for the future generations. I hope guys like Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace feel the same as me, because I’m going to keep coming back and give it my all,” Schwartzel said.
In the meantime, the 31-year-old will be back on the farm in Deneysville – his mom Lizette’s whole family is in farming, anything from corn to wheat to dairy to chickens and pigs – and, perhaps controversially, will not be playing in the first two co-sanctioned events, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“I’m not playing any tournaments in December, I didn’t get into the Nedbank Golf Challenge, so it will be a nice long break and I feel I need it,” Schwartzel said.
The 105th South African Open Championship will again be proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, with a new title sponsor in BMW, and it will again have Els as tournament host/player.
“Sports such as motorsport, sailing and golf are key global sponsorship pillars for the BMW brand. With this in mind, this local sponsorship initiative – which mirrors the brand’s global sponsorship strategy – sees BMW become the overall naming rights partner of the SA Open Championship. In addition, it gives the brand the opportunity to consolidate its position in golf with a signature event that we hope will grow over time to become the biggest professional event in South African golf,” said Tim Abbott, the managing director of the BMW group in South Africa.