Charl Schwartzel has an outstanding European Tour record, particularly at home, but the South African Open
title has eluded him despite being runner-up twice and often contending strongly going into the final round.
What has also eluded the 2011 Masters champion recently has been the ability to transfer his excellent ball-striking on the range and in practice rounds into tournament play, with Schwartzel admitting he is battling to figure out why he can’t convert ahead of the SA Open, tri-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours, that tees off at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday.
“There always seem to be two or three good rounds and then somewhere along the line I struggle. It’s difficult for me to put my finger on what’s going on. I know I’m playing definitely as well as I’ve ever played – if not better. On the range it’s great; in practice rounds, it’s great. Everything I’m doing, the way I’m hitting the ball, the control I’ve got is really good.
“But then you’ve got this little thing called golf where you’ve got to put a score on the board and the way you’re playing is judged on the results. I’m struggling to control that. I feel like I’m playing so well that I’m expecting so much,” Schwartzel said after shooting nine-under-par in the pro-am.
The City of Joburg, who is hosting the SA Open, have sourced seven players from inside the top 100 on the world golf rankings in Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Wallace, Branden Grace, Dylan Frittelli, Shaun Norris, Justin Harding and Schwartzel, as well as legendary five-time champion Ernie Els.
And then there are players such as Dean Burmester, Erik van Rooyen, defending champion Chris Paisley and Frenchman Victor Perez who are all bringing good form to Randpark.
Burmester finished in the top four at the World Tour Championship and the 2017 Tshwane Open champion has a good record in the SA Open.
“I’ve done some scouting and the course looks great. Although there’s not a lot of rough, the fairways and greens are pristine. There’s quite a lot to play for with a British Open qualifying spot also up for grabs and the SA Open is the one trophy everyone wants to get their hands on, especially the local guys. It’s a chance to break through and make it into the European Tour,” Burmester said.
If there is going to be a third successive English winner though, following the triumphs of Paisley and Graeme Storm at Glendower, then Matt Wallace is the man to watch.
Wallace was fifth in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, runner-up in the World Tour Championship and has four European Tour wins in 2018, taking him to 44th in the world rankings.
“To say it’s surreal is an understatement, but it’s kind of what I worked for. I’ve got confidence in my game,” Wallace said.