Pardon my ignorance, but I have been wondering that since the name Charl Schwartzel popped up at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship (he beat Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk in the first two rounds, respectively, and then lost to Stewart Cink in the third round). While Mike Walker was live-blogging the first round of this week’s tournament, he posted an explanation from Golf.com’s European man, Paul Mahoney:
Who the hell is Charl Schwartzel? The 25-year-old South African is World No.35, has already won twice on European Tour this season and his manager Chubby Chandler predicts he’ll be a Top 10 player in the next two years. Chandler should know — he manages McIlroy, Westwood and Els.
Thanks, Paul! But how did he sneak into the top 50 in the world without my knowing anything about him? Apparently I’m just a xenophobic American. Sounds like I wasn’t alone, though. Now that he’s been near the top of the leaderboard all week at the WGC-CA Championship, we’re getting to know him.
Going into the final round, Schwartzel is the co-leader, tied with fellow South African and his “hero” Ernie Els at 12-under. (South Africans play really well in windy conditions, I guess.)
Some more info on Schwartzel:
- His middle name is Adriaan.
- Born on August 31, 1984, he’s a Virgo.
- Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he had an illustrious junior career and then turned professional when he was 18.
- Since 2002 he’s played on the European and Sunshine tours.
- His first pro win was in 2004 at the Sunshine Tour’s Dunhill Championship, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
- He has six victories, four on the European Tour.
- When he was a kid, his father played a bit of golf with Els and Charl would go watch.
- After the Match Play, Els invited him to stay at his Orlando home and practice.
- Els on playing with Schwartzel in the final round: “I think it’s a wonderful, cool story. It’s great for South African golf, obviously. World golf, obviously, a new young star, 25-year-old really making his mark this year. He’s won twice. He’s a force to be reckoned with.”
On Sunday, Schwartzel will tee it up alongside Els and try to take down his childhood hero, who hasn’t won since the 2008 Honda Classic. While Schwartzel feels comfortable playing with Els, it’ll be interesting to see how he fares on the world stage. Regardless, like Els said, “It’s a great story.” Until the Big Easy yips a crucial three-footer coming down the stretch.
[Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]