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January 18, 2012

Charl Schwartzel


THE MODERATOR:  Welcome to the Volvo Golf Champions.  Thank you for joining us.  You know this course as well as anybody, but it was different out there with the heat today.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Yeah, I didn't expect it to be this warm down here in this area.  I've been coming here for many years on holiday, and I've never felt heat like this.  It's good for this golf course.  It can be a very, very tough golf course and very long, and when you get this sort of heat that dries it out, the ball goes a good distance and makes it a bit easier.
THE MODERATOR:  Last week you played your first tournament of the year, do you feel like you're getting rid of a bit of that rust?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  I hope so.  Yeah, last week, I played and actually I missed the cut, but I feel like I played pretty decent.  I only missed four greens in 36 holes, and just trying to get the ball in the hole.  The way golf goes, I feel better than last week; I played really good today.  Hopefully can get some putts going in and gain some real confidence.
THE MODERATOR:  Ernie Els was in earlier talking about great South Africans and the young generation coming.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Yeah, we have got eight players this week in the field.  Just shows you that we are producing some really good golfers, and as we know, there's quite a few more out there.  I'm sure it won't be long before you see George (Coetzee) getting his first win.  It's fantastic for South Africa and I think our golf is really putting us on the map.

Q.¬† There are four European Tour events in South Africa this year‑‑
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Yeah, it's great.  I think whenever we play in South Africa, we as South Africans, we have a slight advantage, but also a little bit of pressure.
You know, it would be nice to see another South African win here.  Ernie, when he's in South Africa, this is where he practises and Louis is just down the road and I've been coming here many years for holiday and I think we know the place and that gives you an advantage.

Q.  You've obviously played here a lot but can you just tell us how you've gone here in tournament play, how many sort of tournaments have you played here and what your results have been like?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  There's only been one tournament, the South African Open.  When was that, 2006?  I played well.  Ernie and Retief obviously ran away with it that year and we played our own tournament and I think I won that tournament.  (Laughter).
I think the cut was also really high.  But I like it.  The golf course is very difficult and hopefully it doesn't become a putting contest like last week, and even the African Open, there was no wind.  The course played so easy, it was who can putt the best; a golf course like this, it's a lot more than just putting. 

Q.  You talked last week about your dream of defending the Masters title, and Pádraig Harrington was saying earlier that major careers are built over a long period.  I guess you understand that.  Do you feel like you're in the kind of state that you could defend that Masters title?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  I definitely do.  I feel that the way I'm striking the golf ball, it keeps on improving.  I haven't been patient enough and I've sort of gone forward and in that way I'm definitely ready for it.  But Augusta is a lot to do with the greens and you need to putt really well to be able to win around there or do really well.
So I can't wait to get back there and start practising on those really fast greens and see if I can't get that touch back.  I've been a little off my pace the last couple of months on my putting and that's why I've been hot and cold.  If I can start playing on fast greens and build up some consistency, hopefully I can find that touch I had last year.  If I get that, I'm very confident that I can do well on defending the title.

Q.  What's it like playing an event this week with no cut?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† I get to play four rounds.¬† I think it's nice.¬† I think tournaments like these are necessary for guys‑‑ for the winners.¬† It makes it a little bit more special and puts more emphasis on winning.¬† A lot of times, someone can win a golf tournament, finish on Sunday.¬† Most of the players come to the next event and there's a new winner and it's almost sort of forgotten.
When you get a tournament like this and you put everyone together, it just shows you what a win does.  To come down here to Fancourt, one of the best venues in the world and play against a field like this where everybody knows how to win is really good.

Q.¬† What did you shoot today ‑‑
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† 6‑under, and I didn't birdie 18 which was on the edge of the green.¬† I played well on the par fours, which shows that I was really hitting good iron shots and putting the ball in play.¬† I made a bunch of putts and I never made a bogey.¬† Just a good, solid round today.
It's nice to play like that.  It's nice after last week to get something, I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

Q.  Your thoughts on the greens here?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  The surfaces are unbelievable to putt on.  There's not much bouncing going on.  If you get the ball on line, most of the time they are going to go in.
Looking at a different picture from the layout, they are pretty severe.  Maybe they have some elephants buried under them.  I think around here, you need to know the golf course really well, especially the greens, before you actually hit your third shot, because a lot of them, you can hit shots where you think it's very good and it ends up off the green or you get bad bounces and you have to get away from it.
I think it's key to really, really know what's going on here before.  I don't think you can get away here playing one bad round on a golf course like this with these sort of greens.  There's some really big slopes that can actually work for you.  It's a lot like Augusta in a way where a lot of the slopes, you can use to your benefit, and you can do the same here.
But if you're not careful, it will bite you.  The greens are fine, they are around 11, 11 1/2, I would say.  They have to be careful to make them too quick, because if the wind gets up, it can be unplayable.  But I think right now, it's in really good shape.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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