Schwartzel: It's my time
Charl Schwartzel (AP Photo)
Augusta - Charl Schwartzel believes that the time is ripe for him to add his name to the long list of South African major winners.
The 26-year-old from Johannesburg shot a second-round 71 in the Masters on Friday to keep himself in contention on four-under par at the halfway stage.
It was further proof that he is starting to fulfill the potential that he showed when he first start playing on the main European Tour eight years ago.
Since then, there have been South African triumphs in the majors for Retief Goosen with two US Open wins, Trevor Immelman at the Masters in 2008 and Louis Oosthuizen at last year's British Open.
Now Schwartzel wants to join them.
Asked if he had been keeping an eye out for how his fellow South Africans were doing in the second round, Schwartzel replied: "Not really. You have a lot of guys up there, you're not really looking at your fellow players or South Africans.
"For me, I'm trying to get myself in position to win. I've got to beat all of them if I want to win the tournament.
"You know, it's my time, if I play well"
Schwartzel is making just his second start at Augusta National, having tied for 30th place last year, and he is keenly aware that above all else it is a course that requires experience and patience.
So it was with some delight that he grabbed the chance last year to get some first-hand insight on how to handle it straight from the record six-time winner of the tournament, Jack Nicklaus.
"He took me through every single hole the way he used to play it when he played. You can't get much better than that," he said.
"We were having lunch, We started talking about hunting and he took me through the way he played 18 holes at Augusta.
"He just told me that some flags we used to go for and just ones he never went for and some lines he used to hit it on.
"But conditions also changed those sort of things You know, 12, he said he never went outside of the bunkers. Always aim it at the bunkers and if it's long, you're never going into the bush, so that was his line.
"That was a particular hole that always sticks with me, that that is always my line."
Schwartzel has a win under his belt already this year at the Johannesburg Open and he has been one of the most consistent players on the European Tour with five top-10 finishes.
He has also been solid on the US PGA Tour, making the cut in all five tournaments he has played, although a tie for 14th in the Honda Classic is his best result to date.
Improving on that at the weekend would confirm that South Africa's latest golfing talent has what it takes to win a major.