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May 10, 2011

Charl Schwartzel


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Charl Schwartzel into the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. Congratulations on the great win at Augusta. I think you've made one start since then in Malaysia. Take us back to that week and what it's done for your career and your anticipation for playing this week.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Obviously, like I said, that was a life-changing, I think, experience, the win at Augusta, and it was pretty much a dream come true for me. You know, I don't think it gets any bigger than this. And coming on to this week, I think it's given me so much confidence, to play against the best in the world and so forth.
This week I think it's my third appearance at THE PLAYERS, and I haven't had the best success around here, but happy to change it.
JOHN BUSH: You've made one start since winning the Masters. You've had your mind on other things. You've done some hunting here recently?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, I went to Malaysia the week after, and I think I finished 11th, which was pretty good golf with everything that went on the week before. Took three weeks off at home.
First week I think I just -- I just wanted to be home. And I had a few interviews and stuff to do but not too much. And the middle of the week I think went hunting for the whole week with some friends and just really had a good time.

Q. In Malaysia were you introduced on the first tee as the Masters champion?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I was. It was pretty cool.

Q. Just talk about that, when it's that kind of setting and what it means to you.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Yeah, obviously it was my first week, and on the tee I wasn't quite expecting it, didn't think they were going to do it, but they introduced me as the Masters champion. There was a few people that were there and they gave quite a cheer. It gave little bit of shivers down the spine. It was a very nice feeling.

Q. How has life changed for you since winning the Masters, some of the things you've experienced in this three or four weeks?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Like I said, it's definitely life changing. I don't think I realized how many people actually watched it. You know, you play and you've got the people at the golf course and the thousands there, and you're sort of in your own little world when you play. I knew when I got back home, I realized actually how many people watched it, and everywhere I went, even in the shopping malls and was out fueling my car, things like that. People when you're putting fuel in your car, they sort of realized, didn't you win the green jacket? They all remember the green jacket.
I think it's the recognition that you get out of it is much bigger than -- well, it is much bigger than what you get out of other events.

Q. The birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish, four in a row, does that accomplishment seem even more amazing now that you're kind of removed from it a little bit?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I've been known to make lots of birdies in a row. At that moment I didn't ever think of making -- that I had to make four in a row. I was standing on 15, and I thought maybe 12-under would be a very good chance.
It was just one of those things. I kept hitting good shot after good shot, and before you knew it -- before I knew it, I was busy making four birdies in a row.
Like I say, you're sort of in your own little world. You know, I think there was once in my life where my dad always used to say you've got to play one shot at a time, and I think that's really where I got it right. It never once really crossed my mind that you can't get too far ahead that you're going to win the Masters. I think if I thought like that I would have been so nervous I wouldn't have been able to old the golf club.
I just sort of kept in my own little world, and that's what I did. Like I said, before I knew it, I was making a birdie on the 18.

Q. The way the finish is set up on this course, do you think that would be possible here, to birdie the last four?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: It's always possible. I mean, like I said, if you keep hitting good shots and giving yourself chances, it doesn't matter how difficult the hole is. If you hit a good shot in there, you're normally going to be pretty close. I mean, around here, 15 is definitely a birdie hole, 16 is a par-5, it's a birdie hole.
17 has got, obviously, the intimidation of the water. But if you get a wind-still day, it's only a wedge, maybe a 9-iron. It's definitely birdieable. And 18, if you get your tee shot on the fairway, once again, it's a mid-iron in. So it's always possible.

Q. Two-part question. We're streaming live coverage on two holes on PGATOUR.COM this week. The par-3, 13th, can you talk about your strategy approaching that hole, whether you consider it a birdie opportunity or just get a par and get out of there type of thing?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I think the left flag is definitely a birdie opportunity. I used to birdie it quite a lot in my TV games.
No, but definitely 13 is a birdie hole, feeding the ball in. The right flag is difficult. The right flag I don't think par is a bad score. But standing on the tee with a left flag, good chance.

Q. And then the other hole is No. 17. Can you talk about what you think about or your approach as you stand on the tee and with all the water that surrounds it?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I think 17 any other day, or any other day of the week, wouldn't be too difficult because of the short iron. But there's such a big hype about it, and you get so many people sitting around it that I think that starts becoming the big, big factor around there. There's such a good vibe, and a little bit of breeze can make it very difficult.
But like I said, if you get a quiet day and with that front flag especially, the front flag is definitely a birdie hole. You can hit a pitching wedge and you can use the slope to bring it back. I almost think the back left flag is the most difficult. You see a lot of guys go at it and bounce over the back into the water.
The front flag you can attack, you can expect to make birdie, and the others, middle of the green will give you a chance, but at least you'll walk away with a 3.

Q. Just wondering if you had a chance to talk to Rory McIlroy the week after in Malaysia or obviously since what happened. He talked a little bit about it after the Masters, but did you guys have a chance to talk at all?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, we traveled together the next day all the way to Malaysia, so we had lots of time. We stayed in the same hotel, so I saw Rory a lot. I think the way he handled it was really spectacular. I mean, he must have been obviously hurting.
But I think everyone else around him took it a lot further than he did. It looked like he forgot about it very quickly and got on with it, and that's the sort of guy he is. I think with that sort of attitude, he'll be back and winning certainly some major championships.

Q. He took a picture of the two of you famously on the plane, you with the green jacket.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, that was his idea, too. For me, I didn't want to sort of shove the jacket in his face. Obviously I had it in my hands and I just put it in the cupboard. After that, he said, "Where's the jacket? I want a photo with it." You know, I thought that was pretty cool. It's never nice being on that side, on that end after what happened. For him to suggest that, that takes some courage.

Q. Will you seek advice from the likes of Trevor and Louis about some of the problems that can follow winning your first major?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, like I said, with Louis winning, I think it was more just -- it was more a mental thing for me, where it just made you realize that we can win major championships. I've played golf with him since a very young age.

Q. I just meant generally. We've seen first-time major winners that sometimes struggled afterwards and they didn't live up to the expectations that followed. I wondered if you might talk to anyone.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I haven't sought any sort of advice like that. What I've seen of past -- Trevor obviously got injured and a few other guys, I think a lot of other people try and change a lot of their things. They do swing changes and they do all sorts of changes. Why? I mean, if you were good enough to win it with your game there, why not just stay with the same thing that got you there and just make that better?
I think that's the biggest thing that guys fall into the trap with is try and become even more of a super hero, change things. And that's not what it's all about. So for me I'm not even going to -- I'm not going to fall into that trap because I'm just going to keep working on it and improving on it.
JOHN BUSH: Charl, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.

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