Schwartzel shows why he is a 'major' player

Charl Schwartzel shot a final-round 67 to win the Joburg Open by four shots.

Charl Schwartzel talks more about hope than in expectation when he discusses major championships. For the rest of world golf, it has nothing to do with hope.

It’s not a question of if the 26-year-old will win a major, but when. Maybe even as soon as this year.

The South African proved yet again why he is a good bet to win one of the four majors this year with his defense of the Joburg Open. Schwartzel entered the tournament as the bookmakers’ runaway favorite at 3-1, and he duly delivered.

Schwartzel carded a four-round total of 19-under 265 for a four-shot victory - and his sixth European Tour title - over compatriot Garth Mulroy.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between winning the Joburg Open against a relatively weak field and winning one of the game’s marquee events. Yet there aren’t many who would argue he is someone to watch out for in the majors.

Schwartzel took an important step at the end of last year when he announced he was joining the PGA Tour. With three of the four majors on U.S. soil, it makes sense to get as much American experience as possible in preparation for that major win.

Few doubt his ability to do well on the world’s strongest tour. Not least the man himself.

“I’ve played a good few events in the States in my career, so I'm no stranger to competing in the States,” he said. “I feel as though I will be widening my variety by taking up my U.S. tour card. Besides, I feel it also gives me a better chance to hopefully win that first major.”

Schwartzel has played in 16 majors in his short career, missing the cut in seven. His best finish came in the Open Championship last year when he finished equal 14th. He also had top-20 finishes in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and earned 30th place at the Masters.

That’s good momentum.

However, watching friend and boyhood rival Louis Oosthuizen win the Open Championship last year should be the spur Schwartzel needs to improve his game.

Schwartzel has long been thought of as a far better prospect than Oosthuizen. That much was obvious in 2002 when a 17-year-old Schwartzel turned up at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in England as a complete unknown to play in the Brabazon Trophy. He didn’t stay unknown for long. He dusted up an elite field to take the trophy back to South Africa.

Since then, people have hailed him as a future major star. Don’t be surprised if this is the season he lives up to expectations.

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