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January 8, 2014

Charl Schwartzel


STEVE TODD:  Give us your thoughts on being back on home soil in to 14.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  For me there's no better place to start the season than back in South Africa.  Good memories of Durban, too.  I won the Freddie Tate as an amateur on this golf course and finished second in one SA Open and fourth in another  one.
I've had very good success around here.¬† It was a great sort of‑‑ great play towards the end of the year last year and hopefully, you know, hope to continue with that sort of form.¬† It's always a bit unpredictable coming off a break, except especially in December, I think most of us, our golf clubs pretty much only come out a couple days before you start thinking about playing again.
So I think you'll see a lot of rusty swings out there but at least we'll be on the same sort of playing field then.
STEVE TODD:  Winning in 2012 and Louis 2013, nice to continue that sequence, wouldn't it?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Yeah, it would be.  And I think they told me that they get like 40 or 50 years exemption if you win into this tournament?  That sounds like a really great idea.  (Laughter).
STEVE TODD:  The prize fund has increased substantially this year.  Give us your thoughts on this tournament.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† It's a great tournament.¬† Volvo does a great job with all the tournaments, and even the Match Play is run really well.¬† It's just nice to play in an event like this where you get recognised for what you did the year before.¬† We all play to win and when you eventually do it, it goes by so quickly.¬† The golf the very next week follows up‑‑ you know, it comes and goes almost in a way.¬† You win and two days later a new tournament starts and the guy is talking about the guy that's defending and seven days later there's a new one and your victory is only stuck with yourself and not with anyone else anymore.¬† That's why a tournament like this is nice.¬† You get recognised and everyone sees the guys who won and who has won the previous year and done well.¬† For us as players, it's obviously fantastic to play in a 30‑man field.¬† I could do that all year long.

Q.  You just touched on it, but can you explain the process of winning and how long the high lefts and the feeling you mentioned, just go through the whole thing and how long it can go on for.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Well, I think it depends from person to person what your standards are.

Q.  Someone of your standing.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† Well, I think your first win, if you went out for the first time or even a second time on The European Tour, it seems to stick with you a lot longer.¬† Once you've won multiple times it feels like it becomes‑‑ you want to make it a habit and you're ready to push yourself.¬† And you can't sort of dwell on previous wins.¬† You need to re‑set your mind very quickly and carry on.¬† So, you know, from my point of view, it's always nice to have a week off after the win and at least you can celebrate a little bit.¬† But normally, if you play week‑in, week‑out, you don't sort of think about the previous week anymore when the new week starts.
If you wanted to perform to a level of‑‑ the level you need to win, you need a fresh mind.¬† All a win does the week before, it gives you a little bit of confidence if you do get yourself back into contention again.

Q.  You didn't play in Dubai at the end of last year due to scheduling issues; do you think that's going to happen again?  Thomas Björn said that he thinks it will be sorted.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  I haven't heard any news of what will happen.  I hope it's sorted out.  I wanted to play Dubai last year.  I was in Turkey, and I just played too many tournaments running up to it, and I feel like I'm sort of at the stage of my career where I don't play unless I feel like I'm ready to play and that was the case beforehand, I don't like to pitch up to a golf tournament just to be there.  I want to pitch up and actually feel like I can actually win it and compete that week.
You know, so that was unfortunate.¬† But I hope they sort it out.¬† I like playing Dubai, I really do, and you know, that end‑of‑the‑year season, for us players, it's really fantastic.¬† We have a whole bunch of really good tournaments, and you know, it's just one of those unfortunate things; if you put so many build up toward the end, there is going to be disappointment in some of them.¬† Various guys are going to miss some out, but I don't think that should stop the guys from competing in the ones they want to play in.¬† Hopefully they sort that out.

Q.¬† Do you think there should be no restriction when it comes to the final series‑‑ or for The European Tour, trying to get the big names to play as many as possible‑‑
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  I do.  I mean, it's a Catch 22 at the end of the day.  I totally see what The European Tour tries to do.  Especially for the sponsors, to try and tell them that all the guys will play.
But I think it's unfortunate, or fortunate in a way maybe; most of the top European Tour players also play in America, and pretty much play for the same amount of money out there week‑in, week‑out, as you do towards the end of the year here.
So I don't think they need to, once you start pushing guys to do something, the obvious thing to do is to back off and say, well, listen, I'm not going to commit to something I don't really want to right now.  Where if you give a guy a bit more freedom, more than likely, more of them will pitch up.  That's my view of it.  But I understand it's very difficult to tie up the sponsors if they are not sure who is going to be there.

Q.¬† Can you see yourself almost saying to The European Tour‑‑ do you think you'll still support The European Tour?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† I would like to.¬† It's something‑‑ I don't want to talk myself into a corner here, but I've always believed in supporting the Tour where you started.¬† The South African tour is where I started so I always try to come back.¬† We do over‑play ourselves by coming back but I enjoy it, and I feeling it's good to come back and support.
So the second tour I went to was The European Tour and it's been really good to me.  If it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't be on the PGA TOUR, so to answer your question, I will always try to support that, as long as they don't make too many rules that bind us to obligate things because of the already heavy schedule, you know, I'll keep playing.

Q.  I think last time you played a tournament here was 2010?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  The South African Open Ernie won.

Q.  Since then or during that week, there were really tough conditions.  How is the course looking right now for your expectations?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  The course is in a lot better shape than it was then.  You know, to be honest, I preferred the old greens that they had in 2009.  I thought those were much better than the ones now.
But the course really isn't in bad shape.  It's in good condition.  This golf course, the defense always comes if the wind blows.  If there's no wind, there's going to be quite a bunch of guys that's going to shoot really low scores.  So, you know, hopefully there's a bit of wind.
Yeah, like I've said, I've done well.¬† It's one of those courses where I hope it plays tough and it plays a little bit more into my hands, especially with the greens being a bit rough.¬† You need here and there a bit of luck with the bounce.¬† But I think, you know, it always is after‑‑ come Sunday, it always feels like you had a good week around Durban Country Club.¬† It is one of those old, classy golf courses and I think it always will be.

Q.¬† That Sunday, on the 15th hole, you ended up with a hole‑in‑one.¬† This year, you have five chances to get a vehicle.¬† Which one do you want?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  The 18th hole would be great.  I'd drive that lorry straight back to Joburg.  (Laughter).

Q.  How do you fancy your chances in this tournament and who else do you see being in contention?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Well, Louis's still got a seat attached to his back.  I think he did about 5,000 kilometres of driving the last week or so.  I don't know what shape he's in.  I think I'm in better shape than him (laughing).
I don't know, you know, it's always a bit of a sort of dark cloud after a few weeks off.  I'm not 100  per cent sure what to expect until the tournament actually starts to see how your senses are and where the swing is shaping up to.  On the range,it doesn't feel that bad.  You know, made quite a bunch of birdies today, so you know, if I can just pick up a bit of a feel and a bit of the feelings that I had finishing off the year, I'm sure I'll be competing come Sunday.  You can never predict where you're going to win or not, as long as you give yourself a chance.  That's pretty much all you can ask for.

Q.  What other guys do you reckon will have a chance?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  All the guys won last year on Tour.  That's what makes this a very good event.   Each of them know how to win.  You can't say that there's a weaker player and a stronger player.  All these guys, if they get some sort of rhythm going, it's hard to beat.  You've got to be on top of your game.  You can't play average and believe you're going to win.  I don't think that your question is going to get answered properly because I think all 30 of the guys really do have a chance.

Q.  Give us your thoughts on the season ahead and how much does it mean to you to play in front of the South African fans?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  I don't even understand.  There's Australians, they are not going to understand (laughter).
Normally it seems for the last 11 years as a pro, I've played well in the beginning of the year and the end of the year, and it's been a pattern that I've for myself tried to break, because all the big tournaments seem to be in the middle of the year and I play pretty average.  Hopefully somehow I get to play the sort of golf that I play in the beginning of the year and the end of the year, in the middle.
You know, I've come off a great end of the year again, and you know, somehow I would like to try and continue that right through.  Whether it's changing around the schedule a little bit, I don't know.  But I always try and make some sort of change.  Hopefully I get it right.
But for us as players, we try and win every tournament we enter.  Otherwise, it's pointless playing, and you know, world golf is so much about World Rankings that we do look at it and try and keep climbing, you know.

Q.  Your thoughts on playing at home in South Africa?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Well, it's fantastic.  We don't get to do it very often.  It seems to be happening a lot more lately, a lot more tournaments in South Africa, which is fantastic to see.  And you know, whenever you can play in front of your home crowd and get a bit of home support, there's nothing better.  For ten months of the year, we play in front of different people and you're always the sort of underdog, so it's nice for a few months to be the guys that they root for.

Q.  Considering you've come second and fourth in the SA hope, what do you think the key will be at Durban Country Club?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  The key is to keep the ball in play.  I mean, there's a lot of snakes out there in those bushes, you don't wan to go there; you don't even go look for it there.  Hopefully keep it down the fairway.
I think the reason I've played well here before is I'm a very good long iron player.¬† I use my 2‑iron a whole bunch off the tees here.¬† Keep the ball in play off the tee, once I've got it off the tee in play, from there, I can start trying to make a score.
So again, from here, it will be pretty much key.

Q.¬† Any extra pressure being the highest world‑ranked player in the field?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:¬† Not really.¬† It's not the first time in South Africa that's happened, so you sort of look past it.¬† Like I said, I look at everyone on a great level.¬† Everyone is on a great level playing field.¬† They are all good players and I know that you have to play‑‑ you have to play your A Game at any week if you want to win.¬† Whether you're No. 1 in the world or number 60, the 60th guy plays his best more than likely beats the guy that's world No.2.

Q.  How many drivers do you use out there in the average round?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Well, again, it's quite wind associated, but the first nine, there's almost nothing for me.  I might hit it on 9.  Probably not.  First one I probably hit is down 10 and I hit it down 11.  13, the par 4, we go for the green, and 14 is the par5 again.  So there's about a four out of five that I hit it, and that's it.  No more from there.

Q.¬† You're talking about scheduling and winning the middle of the year.¬† Is that something that you discuss with Gary Player or Ernie Els, the guys who actually sort of managed to, the South African season is very much‑‑
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  It is.  Actually I haven't spoken to him about it, no, but good point, maybe I should.

Q.¬† What do you see yourself doing at 50?¬† You look at Miguel √Āngel Jim√©nez, what do you think of a guy who is winning at that age and how he does it?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL:  Well, if I could have a warmup routine like he does, maybe I could also play at 50.  (Laughter) he's fantastic.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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