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June 1, 2011

Charl Schwartzel


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Charl Schwartzel. You just got done yesterday -- yesterday you played nine, nine today. If you want to give your thoughts on the course.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I mean, the golf course is just spectacular, like it always is. I played nine holes yesterday. I think all the rain that they had, the rough is up, which is nice. You know, this golf course plays very fair. The fairways are wide, so if you are in the rough, you deserve it. But the course is so well manicured, and it's just a fantastic place, golf course to play.

Q. How has life changed for you in the several weeks since the Masters? What's it been like?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I mean, it's been all good. Winning a tournament like that obviously does change quite a few things. Like I said, it's been all good changes for me. A few adjustments, and yeah, I'm just excited to get back and start playing again now. I haven't been playing too much, but my game feels good, and I want to come out here and win a few more.

Q. Do you think you've changed at all since winning the Masters? Any of your mates said you've changed, or are you the same old guy?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: No, I don't think I've changed. Still smiling. That's one of my big goals. That's really something that I don't want to -- I expect my mates to tell me if I do change. I don't want to change.
I got there being the guy I was, and I don't need to change going forward.

Q. Becoming the seventh South African to win a major and eight if you want to count Nick Price, can you address the culture of the game in South Africa and what may cause a relatively small country to produce so many major championship players?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I've heard this question a few times. It's difficult to say. You know, I was trying to actually analyze it myself the other day. You know, for me, I thought we had -- we have got a really good junior foundation, and I think that's a big key. I'm sure they've got here also great foundations and those sort of things, but for South Africa, we get to play against almost -- it's so small that you play against the best in the country just about all the time. That's the way it was for me.
And then obviously I went on to amateur golf, and we competed against the best the whole time that we had there. And I think it creates a lot of -- like almost a winning instinct. You want to beat them all, and like I said, you play against the best.
We play in fantastic weather. We can play 12 months of the year golf. That makes -- especially when I was in Johannesburg, 12 months of the year it's good weather. We have got great golf courses, and I think everything like that sort of plays along.
As South Africans, I think we're very tough competitors of nature. We've got great role models that we've followed, and I think all that just plays a role. What exactly it is, I don't really know. But all those sort of things must play a role.

Q. The junior program you're talking about, do you guys play on the teams from your geographic areas, so Louis would have been on a different team? You guys have known each other for years and years. How do you divvy it up and what's the competition?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, we had loads of tournaments as juniors, and then there was obviously no teams; you play for yourself during holidays and even on weekends.
And I think where I came from, from the Johannesburg side, there was a lot of golfers up there. Louis comes from a small town, so he had to travel quite a long way to do it. So I only saw him really when it was like really big events. Going on team sports, there was quite a bit, but Louis, once again, came from a small side, so his side was weak. We played -- the Jo'burg side was always very strong. We learned to play some team golf. I played with Louis only for South Africa as juniors and amateurs.
But just the whole thing. We had lots of tournaments, the foundation, the junior foundation, was run well, and especially on holidays there was lots of tournaments, and everyone always used to play. And the guys are good. There's nothing that you can -- you can't beat competition. You can hit as many balls as you want, you can play with your mates, but playing actual tournaments, it doesn't matter what age you are; it teaches you to play the game and to win. That's what it teaches you.

Q. Now that you've risen up the World Rankings very rapidly, do you think about the World Rankings? Do you want to be No. 1, or do you just think about winning tournaments, and if that happens you'll be No. 1?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I mean, I would love to be No. 1. I think any golfer would like to be the best at their sport, especially at this level. I've found if I think about the World Rankings too much, which happened the last couple years, you almost seem to stall because your focus is not where it's supposed to be, so it's a vicious circle. Once I sort of not -- stopped looking at it and more just played the game, it almost takes care of itself.
You know, it's always in your subconscious. I mean, it's nice for me, my first time in the top 10 in the world. It was one of my goals. You give it a little smile and say I've done it, and now it's the next step, you are trying to become the best. Any way to do it is to play good in these tournaments and win these tournaments, anyway you're going to do it. That's where your focus has got to be. Those things will take care of itself.

Q. Have you ever picked out a tournament or set a schedule based on the fact that you might get more ranking points if you played in that tournament and did well?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Not really. I mean, I sometimes play the tournaments in South Africa in the beginning of the year where a win only gives you 20 points, where I can come and play maybe something like the Sony where you'll win 50 points. I like to play where I want to play. I feel once I get forced to play somewhere, I play badly anyway.

Q. You said earlier that you're excited to get back playing again. Did you plan to take some time off after the Masters, or did you have to rearrange your schedule to take advantage of some opportunities?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: No, I always take off that time of the year after the Masters. As a South African I play early on in the year, and we also play late in the year in December when a lot of guys have time off. I have two weeks off in December, so you do need a break.
So after the Masters I always take time off. It just happened that I won it, so it was even more -- I needed it even more. It did take quite a bit out of me, just there being such a big hype about it. Now a month and a half afterwards things are settling down a bit and I feel I can start focusing on my golf again.

Q. Was your time off a little busier because you won the Masters?

Q. What did you do?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: When I got back to South Africa, obviously I gave some time to the media there, and we -- everywhere you went, everyone wanted a little piece of you. Everyone recognizes you, and they wanted to talk. It's all good, but you don't have time for yourself.

Q. Obviously winning the Masters has opened a lot of doors for you. Just curious, how much was The Presidents Cup on your list of goals for the year at the start of the year?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: No, it was. It's something that I would like to add to my CV. As an international player you don't get to play in the Ryder Cup, so that is obviously the thing you want to play in, The Presidents Cup. So it was one of my goals even before I won the Masters.

Q. Who have you gotten phone calls or notes from since the victory at Augusta? And then the second one, Luke Donald is the new world No. 1, has got seven career victories, which I guess isn't a lot. I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on that, as well.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: On the notes, yeah, Gary Player wrote me a note before, on the Saturday. Which I did appreciate a lot was actually Mr. Nicklaus writing me a note in person, in his own handwriting. It wasn't even typed. I received that maybe two weeks after the Masters. I think that that's really special to me. I've actually framed it.
I mean, a guy who's such a respected person to actually take the time to write a letter to me was -- and I gave him a lot of credit on the help he gave me, and he actually in his note, he said he appreciates it, but it wasn't anything that he did, I did it all. And he just in his own handwriting, that was well appreciated.
And Arnold Palmer also sent me a letter, which he signed. He didn't have to do those sort of things.

Q. Three pretty big names.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: That just tells you what sort of persons they are. To take the time out to do something like that is class.

Q. When you get a letter from Jack, do you almost wonder if it's real? Are you checking out the envelope and everything?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Yeah, it was real. The handwriting was really bad. (Laughter.)

Q. Where did you hang it? Did you hang it in your house?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: My father-in-law, they've got a signage business, which they do a lot of canvas stuff, and he actually printed it on canvas for me, and I just have it framed. I've got a very nice picture of me and Mr. Nicklaus that I took a year ago which I had framed, quite a big one, so I put it next to it.

Q. So he was alluding to the fact that you had given credit about that conversation you had about where to hit it and where not to hit it?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Yeah, and just congratulations. He said it was nothing to do with him.

Q. And just your thoughts on Luke being world No. 1?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I think he deserves it. He's been so consistent, and then just the way he did it. He didn't go out, didn't become No. 1 finishing just top 10. He actually went and beat the best player in the world at that stage. Consistency and just by beating him, he deserves it.

Q. Growing up in South Africa when you did, how much did Ernie's victories in '94 and '97 meant at the U.S. Open, and being in his program, how did you look up to him? What was his role in your development?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: You know, I was never in his development. Louis was in his development and I was good mates with Louis, so I traveled with Louis. But Ernie has helped me a lot as a pro.
Him winning in '94 and '97, obviously I was a youngster. You idolize those sort of things, so he just became such a big hero for you and you watched every step of what he did. He wasn't the worst guy to follow. I've learned a lot off him, especially lately, spending so much time with him. I'm the type of guy that I learn a lot from just watching. I'm not big on asking people questions, but I can just sit and watch. And spending time with him, I've watched him, and I've learned a lot.

Q. What kind of things?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: In all aspects, you know, the way he handles -- the way he is around people, and also with his golf swing. I think he's got such a good short game. There's always space to learn, and I just watch what he does, the way he repeats things, and we all know his rhythm. That's something to me that just -- what makes him so good, why he's always been good at it. It's got to be something. If you watch it, you can actually see why. It's little things like that.

Q. Two things about the thing that Jack did at Augusta. What year did that happen, and was it -- did he play a round with you and show you or did you just talk before you played a practice round?

Q. Spring of last year.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: 2010. It was at Ernie Els' autism day. It was after we played, and we just had lunch. It was actually Mr. Rupert, Johann Rupert, that introduced me to Jack while sitting at the table. Mr. Rupert actually asked Jack if it was going to be my first. He said it's going to be Charl's first Masters, why don't you just maybe give him some tips, pointers. He took me through 18 holes of golf the way he used to think around Augusta and the way he used to play.
It was difficult for me because I've never, ever seen Augusta. I've seen it on TV. So he's taking me through the way he played it. I'm sort of following what he said, but I remembered a lot about actually the way he used to think and not where he used to play, because everyone plays different. You're on a computer where you put the ball like this all the time. It's the way he used to think; that's what helped me the most.

Q. I guess Louis was in a similar situation after winning the British Open but do you think your surname is pronounced accurately more frequently since winning the Masters, and what's the worst pronunciation of your surname you've heard?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, there's been a lot of bad ones. Somewhere along the lines people called me "Schwarzenegger." I think I've probably got a little bit of an easier surname than Louis does. Louis has a real Afrikaans surname. I think mine is a little bit easier.

Q. How do you feel like your game shapes up for the Open at Congressional in a couple weeks. Have you been there?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I have not been to Congressional. I'm just going on what U.S. Open courses I like, and I spoke to Aaron Baddeley this morning, and he said everything is right in front of you. I'm not a big fan of very blind golf courses. So what I've heard, it's good for me. I like it when it's a little bit tougher. I like to play pretty conservative golf, and normally that's what you need to do around U.S. Open style courses.
It's normally -- more than most tournaments but more so the U.S. Open, you can't jump out of the blocks quickly, you need to take it as it comes, be patient. I like that sort of thing when it plays tough.

Q. I wondered if you could walk us through a couple of holes that we're broadcasting live on PGATOUR.COM this week. One is 16, the par-3 that's been redone, and then also the par-5, 11th.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Yeah, well, 16 obviously changed quite dramatically. I think it's a tougher hole now than what it used to be. We played it downwind today, and it was a big 7-iron. I don't want to know what it's going to be like if the wind is into you.
It's going to be a tough hole. I mean, if you're coming down the stretch all square or one-shot lead, you need to get past 16. It's going to be a tough one.
I think it's a good change. I didn't like the old green very much. This is a good hole, 16, now.
11 is a tough par-5. Played straight into the wind today, so there was no point in even hitting a driver, so you've got to play for position. It's a three-shotter. Play your 3-wood off the tee and then a 5-iron and a wedge. But actually a better hole when it's downwind because then the guys -- it's tempting to go for it. Well, it's a good par-5. It's a par-5 that makes you think. It's got some options.

Q. You don't get to take the green jacket home, right?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I do. The first year.

Q. Did you wear it for a while at home or sleep in it or anything?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I take it pretty much with me everywhere. If you get to keep it only for a year and then leave it, you've got to pretty much enjoy it. No point leaving it if you're only going to see it every two months.

Q. Do you have it here?

Q. So you plan on wearing it or just around the room?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I'm not going to wear it just everywhere, but it's nice to have a look at it.

Q. What's the feeling when you see that thing hanging in your closet at your hotel or your rented house and every morning when you're getting dressed you see that thing hanging there? Must be rewarding?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, I mean, just to know that you're actually the only one that's got it makes it -- it's a very good feeling.

Q. When is the last TOUR stop that you wore it out? Have you done it?

Q. Where did you wear it to?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: It was the European awards dinners, and they actually asked me to wear it. It was a black tie event, and I'm dressed up in a green jacket. Most people thought I was a waiter. (Laughter.)
MARK STEVENS: Well, on that note, thank you for your time. Good luck this week.

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