Johannesburg – Charl Schwartzel was relieved after his risky finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club did not backfire as he set-up a commanding 12-stroke victory on Sunday.
“I had such a bad lie in the rough on the 18th and in the back of my mind, I remembered what happened to Ernie Els,” Schwartzel said.
“I just thought I had a lot more shots than Ernie had, so I decided to have a go, just to see if I could pull off the hero finish.
“I hit that ball so hard. It came out nicely and it worked out okay.”
Els famously dumped two shots in the water on 18 to hand John Bickerton the title on a plate in 2007.
Schwartzel saved the best for last on Sunday when he muscled a nine-iron onto the green for two on the par-five 18th.
The resultant birdie saw him sign for a three-under-par 69 to finish on 24-under-par 264, with Swedish rookie Kristoffer Broberg a distant second on 12-under-par 276.
The South African started the final round with a string of seven consecutive birdies, and it was apparent that the pyrotechnics of his middle pair of 64s was not going to be repeated.
“Through the first six holes, I had opportunities, then the three-putt on eight sort of put a stop to things, because Gregory Bourdy started making some birdies,” he said.
“The lead was down to seven shots, and that was close enough for me – seven shots around this course is catchable.”
He made a birdie on nine, and then the weather intervened with players being taken off the course for two hours while the storm flashed itself out.
It was after the weather delay that Schwartzel tackled the back nine with a gusto reflected by the three birdies he made.
“After the rain delay I started hitting my driver a lot better and I was putting on much better swings,” Schwartzel said.
“It was much more like I wanted it coming down the last few holes. I hit some really good shots, and it was nice for me to finally hit a few shots the way I thought I should hit them.”
The 2011 Masters champion's victory at Leopard Creek followed in the wake of the 11-shot gap he opened up when he won the Thailand Golf Championship the previous week.
“Last week I got that win by a big margin, and normally when you come back the next week it’s hard to put up the same show. To me that’s the most satisfying, to continue the form that I had up in Bangkok after the flight and the jetlag and come here and play the same sort of golf.”
Schwartzel will take that knowledge with him to a lengthy rest ahead of his 2013 campaign, as well as the belief that it was often after that kind of break that he got a good year going.
“Normally when I’ve had some time off and I start practising slowly I have better timing and get it back better.” – Sapa