16 October 2013
South Africa’s highest ranked golfer, Charl Schwartzel, has moved up two places to 17th in the world golf rankings after capturing the OneAsia Tour’s Nanshan China Masters on the weekend.
It was Schwartzel’s first victory since he captured back-to-back titles in late 2012 in the Asian Tour’s Thailand Golf Championship and the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, held at the Leopard Creek Country Club in South Africa.
The 29-year-old performed impressively over the final 18 holes on the Nanshan International Golf Club’s Montgomerie Course to overcome an overnight deficit of three shots on 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke and defending champion Liang Wenchong.
The pedigree of a champion
Showing the pedigree of a champion, he responded to the challenge when matters became tight by sinking birdies on the 15th and 16th to drew level with Clarke, who then ceded the lead on the 17th when he bogeyed the hole.
After securing the victory, Schwartzel said: “It’s always very satisfying to win. I’ve played a lot of golf tournaments and done a lot of traveling in the past few months and it felt like I’ve been playing really good golf with no results, so it’s nice to have something finally go your way.”
On his website, he commented: “My short game was as good as it has ever been! The back nine on Sunday came and I found myself only three off the lead, which I saw as a positive, considering the way I’ve been hitting the ball. And then something clicked – all of a sudden I felt like I could win the tournament; my focus went up a notch and with that I started hitting quality shot after quality shot, and the putter worked too.”
‘A great feeling’
“It’s a great feeling to win again, especially it being my first in China,” Schwartzel said. “I travelled a long time to get there, and I was very tired after the Presidents Cup. It was very satisfying to have pulled off this win, considering how tired I was and how out of touch my swing was.
“I learned a lot out of this win – it showed me that you don’t have to play perfect golf to be able to win. A great short game and clever thinking goes a long way'”
Schwartzel also said his victory in the 2011 US Masters helped him come from behind once again. “I won the US Masters from four shots behind and I won by two shots,” he said.
‘Controlling your own destiny’
“I never thought I was out of it, for any second. It’s a matter of staying in there, hitting good golf shots and controlling your own destiny.”
While it has been a while since Schwartzel’s last victory, he has been consistent on both the European and US PGA Tours.
Apart from his win at Leopard Creek, his results over the 2012/13 season include second place in the Joburg Open, third in the Northern Trust Open and the HP Byron Nelson Championship, fourth in the Maybank Malaysian Open, seventh in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, eighth in the BMW Championship and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, and ninth in the Honda Classic.
Given the lucrative nature of golf at the top, Schwartzel will hardly be eating baked beans on toast for the next few months.
He has won €964 246 (R12.98-million) on the European Tour this season and $2 256 723 (R22.48-million) on the PGA Tour. That, of course, excludes money like the $180 000 (R1.79-million) Schwartzel pocketed for winning the Nanshan Masters.
Schwartzel is one of five South Africans ranked inside the top 50 in the world. The others are Ernie Els (23), Louis Oosthuizen (30), Richard Sterne (40), and Branden Grace (42).