Schwartzel looks to shine in the sun

Charl Schwartzel ©Khalid Redza/Asian Tour
Charl Schwartzel ©Khalid Redza/Asian Tour

Kuala Lumpur: South African star Charl Schwartzel is looking to emulate his good friend and fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen in lifting the coveted Seagram Trophy come Sunday at the Maybank Malaysian Open. 

Schwartzel, ranked 17th in the world, hopes his third straight visit to the Maybank Malaysian Open will be a lucky one, having finished sixth last year.

“As long as you play well each round and not do what I did last year – shoot a bad one, you’ll be up there. You need to keep ticking over and shoot three or four under every day to have a chance on Sunday.

“I just want to play consistently, as I have been doing, and give myself a chance. It would be very nice to lift the trophy,” said Schwartzel, who ended his 2012 season by winning the Thailand Golf Championship and Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil.

He knows a win in Malaysia will be the ideal preparation for him to reclaim his title at the Masters Tournament next month.

“I don’t like to put a lot of expectation on myself because it creates a lot of anxiety. I know I’m playing well and if I play the way I have been, then I can compete in any golf tournament. There are so many good players out there you’re not going to win every week, but if you’re there every week you’re going to break through more often,” he said.

“It’s the same thing for the Masters. I don’t have to prove myself because I’ve won there. I know if I play the way I can play then I’ll definitely be competing. That’s the aim.”

Meanwhile Italian sensation Matteo Manassero, who hopes to replicate his winning performance at the 2011 edition, tipped his hat to Malaysian amateur Gavin Kyle Green, who he played with in the pro-am and is paired with in the opening two rounds.

“He’s a really nice guy and plays really well. He’s got a strong game and it was nice for me to play with a very good amateur in the pro-am. But it was better for him to get to know me and maybe take a little bit of pressure off tomorrow. We spoke about the course and strategies. He hits it 40 yards further than me so he doesn’t need much advice!”

The leaner and meaner Manassero spent five weeks during the off-season honing a physique to cope with the rigours of professional golf, and returns to Malaysia fitter than ever.

“I did a lot of running and cardio training to lose weight,” said Manassero. “I lost about six kilos. Now I’m trying to build up some strength and put some muscle on. When you lose weight it can change the feeling of the swing, especially in the change of direction.

“On the follow-through, I’m lighter so my hips are turning a little too quickly sometimes. But it’s nice because I feel better and I can produce more speed, which is what we’re working on.

The 19-year-old claimed his third European Tour crown when he overcame Oosthuizen in a dramatic playoff at the Barclays Singapore Open last November and is confident that he can deliver again in a place he feels very comfortable.

“This is a place I love to come and play. The course here suits me very well. I like it a lot. I like the approaches to the greens. It’s a well-designed golf course and you need to put the ball on the fairway with the driver, rather than hit it long. That suits me. I just really enjoy the event. We stay in a really nice hotel and there’s a lot to do, so it’s a fun week and I feel very comfortable when I come here.”