NORTON, Mass. – Charl Schwartzel has played in a season marred by injury, with his mental recovery taking much longer than the physical one.
But after two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Schwartzel finally may have his game back – and just in time.
After a great start to the 2012 season – finishing T-5 at The Honda Classic and T-4 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship – the South African missed the cut in his next two events, in Tampa and Houston.
The Masters, where Schwartzel won last year, also was a bit of a bust with a T-50 finish, so Schwartzel took a month off to rest and get some perspective.
A T-19 at Memorial was a positive going into the U.S. Open, but the week after, Schwartzel injured a rib under his left arm. The next week at the U.S. Open, he adjusted his swing to compensate for the injury and would tear his abdomen on his right side.
Because he was in contention after two rounds, Schwartzel played through the pain, but finished T-38 with a lackluster weekend and took another month off before playing not completely healthy at the Open Championship.
“I wanted to play the British Open, so I came back early,” Schwartzel said. “So it was still affecting me. So you start compensating, and as a consequence I started hitting it badly and then started missing a few putts, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a downward spiral leaving your confidence really quickly.”
Schwartzel would miss the cut at Royal Lytham and has struggled to get his confidence back. A 65 in the opening round at the RBC Canadian Open and a final-round 63 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational started to give Schwartzel the confidence he had been lacking since returning to competition at Royal Lytham.
The Wyndham Championship was Schwartzel’s best performance since his early-season success. He’d finish 14 under, but if not for a bogey on the final hole would have recorded his first top 10 since March on the PGA Tour.
Now Schwartzel has a real chance to make a run at his first win on the PGA Tour since his Masters victory. He shot 68-65 in the first two rounds at the TPC Boston, his lowest two consecutive rounds since a 66-67 in the middle two rounds of the Honda Classic in March.
Three shots off the lead of Rory McIlroy is the closest the South African has been after the first 36 holes to winning a golf tournament on the PGA Tour since the Honda Classic in 2011, when Schwartzel was three shots behind Kyle Stanley after two rounds.
Schwartzel finished T-14 that week, but is clearly hoping to put a better two rounds together in Boston.
“Since the Wyndham, I’ve put myself in position a few times to do well,” Schwartzel said. “I’m not quite finishing off, but that’s the way it starts, and eventually we’ll turn it around and finish strong.”