I'm not expecting anything this week - Schwartzel
Despite bouncing back from injury to finish third at the lucrative World Tour Championship in Dubai last week, Charl Schwartzel is not talking up his chances as he bids to become the first South African in five years to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The 2011 Masters champion was laid low this season after injuring a rib cartilage muscle at the US Open in June.
He played in the SA Open at Serengeti two weeks back and was still struggling to string together the four good rounds he needed to win a tournament.
Schwartzel tied for fifth in the national open after shooting a disappointing 74 in the third round, but he went to town last week in Dubai, with rounds of 68, 67, 67 and 68 leaving him in a tie for third.
He still believed, however, it was too early to claim he was back to his best.
"For the last month-and-a-half I've been pain-free and I'm getting the swing back to where it was, but it's been a long process coming back from that injury and I'm not expecting anything this week," he said ahead of the Thursday's first round at Sun City.
"If I have a good week and play the way I know I can, then I'm easily capable of winning, but it's too early to say what's going to happen, even though things are definitely turning." Schwartzel's year had been fairly successful before the US Open, with nine top-20 finishes in 13 events, but the freak injury pretty much ruined the rest of his year, and the three-time Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner said he was only now starting to get his game back on an even keel.
"My golf had been pretty good before that, but the injury put a halt to that.
"Then I came back two or three weeks early because I wanted to play in the Open, but I created some bad habits in my swing to play around the injury. That led to a lot of inconsistency and frustration."
While Schwartzel always projects a relaxed, easy-going demeanour, it was clear he was not in the Pilanesberg for a holiday.
"I don't care who you are, it's never nice not to play well, so you're always going to give it your best shot and see if you can win.
"There's always a bit of extra pressure on the South Africans as well because most of the crowd want to see one of their own win.
"You don't feel like letting everyone down, you want to play well and it just puts a little bit more pressure on you."