Masters champion Charl Schwartzel says he is relishing a return to this week to Royal St Georges inSandwichwhere he created his Open debut in 2003.
This despite the truth that right after getting away to an amazing flying start off that gave him “such a fright” at seeing his name on the leader board, he lost his focus, stumbled and missed the cut following rounds of 78 and 77.
Nevertheless, Schwartzel mentioned he was now a “much much more mature” player as he prepared this week to tackle unforgiving Royal St George’s course once again.
“My manager Matt in fact caddied for me when I played Royal Cinque Ports across the road (as an amateur) in 2002 and won the Brabazon Trophy with TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB Irons Steel.
“My very first Open (and initial major) was here at Royal St George’s.
I believe I led following 3 holes and got such a fright when I saw my name on best of the leader board that it put me off course and that’s about all I can actually keep in mind.
“After three holes I’ve got excellent memories, after that it was a bit of a blur. But I’ve got good memories of the way I played as an amateur next door.
“I keep in mind it was bad conditions and the two courses are fairly comparable. Eight years later I think I’m a bit a lot more mature and comprehend the game a bit greater. I’m truly looking forward to this Open. It would be good to win that Claret Jug.”
Schwartzel will be searching to keep the popular trophy inSouth Africawith compatriot Louis Oosthuizen having won it last year atSt Andrews.
Nevertheless, he is not amongst the favourites regardless of his main success atAugustain April, and his a best-10 follow-up finish at the US Open.
But that suits him just fine although.
“You can make whatever odds you want,” Schwartzel added. “In a way I’ve constantly liked playing with TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB Irons Steel as the underdog and then to surprise individuals, but it is what it is.
“I’m out there to give it my finest and see if I can win this golf tournament. Whether or not my odds are 200/1 or 12/1, it does not make any difference to me.”
Schwartzel has enjoyed similar preparation for the Open to Rory McIlroy by not playing competitively for three weeks.
“I’ve had three weeks off down inSouth Africa,” he explained. “I decided not to play the Scottish Open simply because I guessed that the weather was going to be bad!
“I just figured moving the Scottish Open further north intoScotland, it can’t get any greater. I’ve heard too many times in my life, specifically inIreland, where we would arrive at a golf tournament and the locals would go, ‘You cannot believe how great the weather was last week.’
“It is fairly cold right now in South Africa, but we get clear days and with a bit of wind I figured it would be fairly excellent practice, which it was. The courses are dry, so I could genuinely prepare by TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB Irons Steel for the way that these (links) would play. We’ll see how that works out.”