Johannesburg – Charl Schwartzel continued his fine run of form to grab a share of third place at the Northern Trust Open US PGA tour event at Riviera Country Club, California, on Sunday.
Schwartzel fired a final round-one under par 70 to end on a 10 under 274 total for the week, one stroke shy of a playoff, which American Johan Merrick won.
“I hit some good putts – at 16, 17 and 18 – the greens were getting really bouncy and they were fast, so it was hard to really hit aggressive putts,” Schwartzel said after his round.
“But I suppose everyone played on them and came up a shot shy.”
Schwartzel had his chances, though, coming down the stretch.
On the par-three 16th hole, the 2011 Masters Champion hit his tee shot to six feet. Facing a fast downhill putt to tie the lead, the ball moved right on Schwartzel as he settled for par.
Onto the par-five 17th, Schwartzel banged a 291 metre drive, leaving just an iron approach for his second. He came up just short of the putting surface and took three shots to get down for a frustrating par.
Schwartzel was unable to birdie the difficult par-four 18th to come-up shy of a playoff.
Despite a long journey to play the tournament, Schwartzel said he settled quickly.
“Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable from the time I got here. I had a long travel to get here, and I'm happy with the way I played.
“I'm happy to continue the form.”
The California course had familiar kikuyu fairways, which Schwartzel knew well from playing much of his golf on the Highveld in South Africa where this type of grass is prevalent.
“It is the best fairway to hit off, but I'm used to it; but it's still a different golf course,” he said.
“I played well, it could have gone my way at the end, but unfortunately it didn't. I came close and I played pretty solid.”
Before the South African Open in November last year, Schwartzel had fallen out of the top 30 in the world rankings, but since then the 28-year-old has been churning out the results.
With the third-place finish, it means the world number 11 has produced a sequence two victories, two seconds, two thirds and a fifth place dating back to the SA Open.
Meanwhile, countryman and four-time Major champion Ernie Els produced a last-round three under 68 to move up nine spots on the leaderboard to a share of 13th.
Trevor Immelman struggled to a one over 73 on Sunday, to finish on two over for the event in a tie for 38th. – Sapa