Home comforts for Schwartzel

The former Masters champion has been almost untouchable over the last two editions at the beautiful Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, which is situated within the confines of the Kruger National Park.

Schwartzel arrives having not managed to break 70 in any of his last 12 competitive rounds, but he hopes a return to the scene of his maiden European Tour victory a decade ago will help him rediscover his best form.

The home favourite, who followed up his dominant 12-shot victory two years ago with a four-stroke win last season, told European Tour Radio: “Even if I am playing badly it seems to treat me well.

“It is 11 years now I’ve been on tour and you get courses that suit you and this is one where I feel more comfortable than other courses. My breakthrough win was 2004 and I think those are the ones you never??forget.”

Schwartzel’s compatriot Louis Oosthuizen is also determined to put on a show for the home fans, but the 2010 Open champion is wary of his poor record at Leopard Creek.

Oosthuizen has missed the halfway cut five times while he was forced to pull out two years ago due to injury, but – in contrast to Schwartzel – his recent results have been encouraging with three top-10 finishes in four starts.

???I always come here have a great time, just being out in the wildlife, but I am focused on the golf,??? Oosthuizen told the European Tour website.


???I want to have a good finish and hopefully this week Leopard Creek can be kind to me for a change. This is definitely my favourite golf course in South Africa. I always love coming here and it???s always in great condition.

???It will be a good challenge – it???s a golf course where you can shoot a low number, but it???s going to bite you. It???s got tough stretches in the middle and you need to be on your game.???

Meanwhile, Danny Willett revealed he was happy to be competing rather than “day-dreaming” this week after he considered pulling out following his impressive win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The Yorkshireman has had a hectic few days since lifting the first European Tour title of the season in Sun City, but he has decided to honour his commitment to playing in Malelane.

“Tuesday night was the first night I’d slept properly,” he said. “But last week’s gone, as brilliant as it was, and it is a new job to do this week.

“Luckily I am playing this week so I’ll not be day-dreaming all week.”