Charl Schwartzel was sitting in the media interview room at Leopard Creek on Friday trying to convince us puzzled reporters that even though he’s been shooting the lights out recently, he isn’t happy with his ball-striking.
He had just shot a sensational 64 in the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to join Frenchman Gregory Bourdy in the lead, and was asked if his form here was as good as it was last week when he won the Thailand Golf Championship with a mind-blowing 25-under-par 263 aggregate.
“Last week my ball-striking was terrible,” he said. “Terrible?” That confused us even more. But then he tried to explain that poor ball-striking and poor scoring don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. “In Thailand I didn’t hit it at all well, but the golf course suited me.
“Like if I missed fairways, it was on the right holes where I didn’t get penalised. I’m not sure if it’s fatigue in the body but my timing was out.”
He then added that he still feels a little like that this week, although there were signs on Friday that the ball-striking was improving. “The way I’m hitting it now it feels like I’ve got to dig a lot deeper to grind a score out. It’s hard for me to explain, but there’s a real basic about the swing that needs to be right. My basics – and I’ve had these basics from a very young age – are right, that’s why I still get away with not striking it well and still playing well.
“If my basics were wrong I’d be hitting it all over the golf course. I’m not saying that I’m not on top of my game, I’m just saying that I’m not striking the ball like I know I should. It’s so minor that there’s almost no other way to fix it than to keep playing.”
To us out there – us being anyone who watches golf – a 64 looks to be pretty much perfection. But world-class golfers like Schwartzel clearly know that something isn’t 100 percent, even though they can still post the low numbers.
Goodness knows what Schwartzel will do when he does start striking it perfectly, although will it actually make much of a difference? Maybe.
Maybe not. Maybe he’ll be left with an 19-footer after an approach rather than a 20-footer, and he’ll still hole out with the same score. But he’ll be happier, he’ll build confidence and he’ll win more tournaments.
Goodness, this game can get complicated. That’s why Schwartzel is trying to keep everything as simple as he can. He was asked what his plans were for the next 12 months. “I don’t even want to think about it,” he replied. “I just want to keep playing with no expectations. Tee it up, hit the ball down the fairway, hit it on the green, make the putt and see where it leads me.”
He did say that winning in Thailand “broke the ice” since it was his first victory since the 2011 Masters. “For me breaking the ice was important, because everyone was saying ‘When are you going to win again?’ Now I have won and let’s talk about something new now, not the Masters. It’s gone. We can fuss about it in 20 years’ time. Right now I’m saying to myself ‘let’s make some new memories’.”
Make some new memories. I like that. That’s a very deep statement and it shows the kind of self-belief a great champion needs, even if he isn’t too happy with his ball-striking. – Saturday Star