Masters victory not so surprising: Schwartzel

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Charl Schwartzel’s U.S. Masters triumph last month was widely regarded as a surprise but not by the South African himself. Schwartzel held his nerve to seal his first major title with a final round of 66 at Augusta, beating a host of big names to claim the green jacket. “For a foreigner to win in the US is always a surprise for the Americans,” he told Reuters.
“It’s fair that they are loyal supporters and only watch their own players, but I was already quite high in the world rankings going into the Masters and in my mind I knew I was good enough to win. “If they had been following my career from the start, they wouldn’t have been surprised, I’ve won more tournaments in Europe than most golfers my age,” Schwartzel said. Schwartzel’s victory charge was lit up by birdies on the last four holes but he said his win owed more to keeping out of trouble.
“It took a lot of very good preparation and advice from players like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen,” he said. “The more you play at Augusta, the more you learn to hit the ball in the right places on the green. “In your head, you have to know exactly what the course looks like, you need to have a picture in your head. I was also better prepared for the speed of the greens, I was practicing very fast putts from long before. I think I was number one in putting and that made the difference.
“I also didn’t have a bogey after the fourth hole. People always talk about my four birdies down the stretch, but keeping bogeys off my card is what laid the foundation because 10, 11 and 12 are seriously bogeyable.” Schwartzel played a round at his home course, the Maccauvelei Golf Club, on Wednesday and quickly wore out another marker pen. “It’s the first thing I put in my pocket these days,” Schwartzel said shortly before the pen ran out of ink after signing a stream of caps, posters and shirts.
An hour’s drive south of Johannesburg and nestled on the banks of the Vaal River with parkland trees displaying their brightest autumn leaves, the course is a tranquil escape for a player still coming to terms with being Masters champion. “A lot of people want your time and I haven’t learnt yet to say no,” Schwartzel said. “You never know how big it’s going to be until you’ve done it, even though I sort of had an idea after seeing Louis Oosthuizen do it last year at the Open.
“But it’s what I’ve always worked for, winning a major and competing with the very best, and if it is the price I have to pay, then I’m prepared to deal with it.”