Charl Schwartzel enjoys having his game tested and he’ll get just that at the Maybank Championship this week, where he returns after more than two months out of competition.
‘I think overall it’s been a good thing. It’s been nine weeks since I last played competitively and it’s the freshest I’ve ever been. I’d like to climb the World Rankings more this year. I’m focused on Majors, 2011 is a long time ago,’ he said in reference to his Masters victory.
The Vereeniging-born golfer went as high as sixth in the world in 2012 and, despite winning the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship last year, hasn’t reached the same heights since.
The 32 year old is one of the best ball strikers in the world and his long iron play suits the tough setup at Saujana Golf & Country Club, which hosts this week’s $ 3,000,000 tournament.
Reining Masters champion Danny Willett is also playing this week and was apprehensive about ‘going for it’ on such a tricky layout.
‘This golf course gives you a lot of choices,’ he said. ‘A lot of courses you’re hitting driver every hole and you don’t have to think much about it, every hole looks pretty similar. I find that a lot of the golf courses in Asia give you a lot of choices and this one highlights that perfectly.’
The muggy conditions in Malaysia are just fine for Schwartzel.
‘I definitely prefer warm weather than cold so that’s maybe a reason why I like it here in Malaysia, you never get cold over here. The golf course is demanding, it requires you to hit the ball straight and although the rough is not very long you can get a massive flier so it’s quite uncontrollable,’ he said.
It’s his first time competing in the Maybank Championship, but he played Saujana Golf & Country Club during his amateur days.
‘There’s a lot of holes that I remembered when I was out there today and I’m actually very excited to be here. It’s a course that was a good memory even if we didn’t win. It’s nice to be back here and hopefully I can make new memories here,’ he said.
Those memories will come in handy as he looks to kickstart his 2017 campaign.
‘I find sometimes the tougher the course is, the better I play so sometimes these kinds of courses suit me. The course is not very long though so you’ve got to think the winner will be 16 under and up,’ he concluded.
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