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Golf | SA

Charl Schwartzel © Gallo Images

Schwartzel brings major focus to SA Open



Charl Schwartzel has prepared for this week’s South African Open exactly the same way as he did for the 2011 Masters.

Schwartzel said the key to his 2011 Masters win was understanding Augusta’s greens, and he feels the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate course will require the same if he’s to win his national Open this week.

“I’ve prepared for this the way I prepare for Majors,” Schwartzel said on Tuesday. “This is one of those golf courses that you cannot play enough, and purely because of the greens. It’s similar to Augusta. You need to play Augusta a lot to understand those greens. Here, you need to be able to stand on the fairways and know pretty much every slope on that green.”

Schwartzel has certainly done his homework for this week, having already played several practice rounds here. And it showed in his pro-am round on Tuesday. “I think I shot about six under today,” he said.

European Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer also believes the Serengeti greens hold the key to victory this week.

“You really have to place the ball in certain areas in order to have a good chance to make birdie. But the rough is also very thick, so you have to keep it on the fairway,” he said.

But the biggest surprise for Kaymer on Tuesday had nothing to do with the golf course. “I can’t believe how popular I am here,” he said. “A lot of people have been shaking my hand and welcoming me to South Africa. I’m surprised because that doesn’t happen very often to me. It’s nice to get welcomed like this.”

Branden Grace is back in South Africa after a phenomenal season on the European Tour, where he won four times. And he’s equally interested in seeing the kind of reception he gets from the local fans.

“I’ve really been looking forward to this. If you’re a South African golfer, this is the one tournament you want to win. This is our main event of the year and our biggest in South Africa. It’s a good opportunity to get your name in the history books. And I’m looking forward to the first round. I don’t really know what to expect and who will be coming out to watch.”

The tournament tees off on Thursday.

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