Schwartzel returns to happy hunting ground

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa plays a shot during the par three competition prior to the start of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Golf Club on December 12, 2018 in Malelane, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The 2011 Masters champion has a superb record at Leopard Creek and wants to atone for a bad weekend at the SA Open.

Charl Schwartzel had a bad weekend at the South African Open, shooting one-over-par 72s in the last two rounds, but he says the fact that he was contending for the title will stand him in good stead as he tees it up from Thursday in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, where he has won a record four titles.

Schwartzel had two double-bogeys in his final round at Randpark, which left him in a tie for third, eight shots behind winner Louis Oosthuizen, and he also couldn’t sink a putt, but his general game was actually pretty good and he will definitely be a threat at Leopard Creek.

“It was disappointing on the weekend, sort of the typical things that I have been doing this whole year. But the positive of it is that I was in contention and I need to be in contention more to get used to the juices and figure out ways of how to play better on the weekend. And that’s the only way to put yourself in it, it’s the only place to learn,” Schwartzel said.

“It’s great to be back here, it’s definitely my favourite golf course to play in the world. The place is amazing too, it’s so unique.  Playing on the edge of the Kruger National Park and playing on a golf course like this, you don’t get a better setting. It’s very special, the set-up is beautiful. In a way, it looks like Augusta in the veld,” the 2011 Masters champion added.

With Leopard Creek redesigned with Bermuda grass, the greens, in particular, are hard and fast and it’s going to be all about pinpoint approach shots for those golfers who are going to do well over the next four days.

“The changes here are brilliant. It’s tough, you’ve got to really play well this week. Around the greens and the green itself, it’s just so much more demanding than it was before. I’m seeing a dramatic scoring difference, I don’t really see very low scores around this golf course now. The speed and firmness of the greens make it tough.

“I think in a few years’ time the greens are going to settle in a little more, but at the moment they’re really firm and fast. You’ve got some homework to do with your yardage book so you can pitch it in the right spots on the greens. But the game feels good and I just need to build on the performance of last week,” Oosthuizen said.

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