MALELANE – Charl Schwartzel is delighted to be back at his "favourite golf course on the planet" for this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club starting on Thursday.
The 34-year-old has plenty of fond memories of course, having won this event on four occasions.
He is also in good form having tied for third in last week's SA Open at RandPark in Johannesburg.
"It's great to be back here," he said. "It's definitely my favourite golf course to play in the world.
"The place is amazing too. It's so unique. Playing on the edge of the Kruger National Park and playing on a golf course like this, you don't get a better setting. It’s very special.
"The set-up is beautiful. In a way, it looks like Augusta in a veld.
"The new grass that is put on here looks spectacular and white bunkers… I think it will just get better as the years go on. It needs time to settle but it’s going to be magnificent."
The most recent of Schwartzel's wins here came three years ago when he stormed to a four-stroke victory.
The prestigious host course has since undergone extensive improvements and the 11-time European Tour winner is thrilled to return to the southern edge of Kruger National Park for this week's tournament.
Schwartzel earned a spot at next year's Open Championship after finishing in a tie for third at the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg last week.
But the South African, who opened with rounds of 67 and 63 before carding back-to-back 72s, was unhappy with how the weekend went.
He added: "The last week was disappointing at the weekend, sort of the typical things that I have been doing this whole year.
"But the positive of it is that I was in contention and I need to be in contention more to get used to the juices and figure out ways of how to play better on the weekend.
"And that's the only way to put yourself in it. It's the only place to learn."
Another former winner of this event who is pleased to be back is fellow South African Branden Grace.
Grace, who opened his 2015 campaign with victory here, said: "When you come back to a place like this where you have won before, you always try to relive those moments.
"It's great to be back. Obviously, things have changed a lot so you can't really picture hitting the same shot into the same greens. But the majority of the stuff is still the same.
"But it’s always great to come back here, it’s such a chilled week.”
African News Agency (ANA)