Charl Schwartzel will make his comeback from injury in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club, Mpumalanga, from Thursday to Sunday, returning to a tournament he has won four times.
“I’m very happy to be back at Leopard Creek. If I was ever going to make a comeback, this was going to be the best place for me to start. It’s beautiful, this setting. It has to be the best I’ve ever seen this course,” said Schwartzel.
The 2011 Masters champion has been sidelined from the game for eight months as he recovered from a wrist injury. Schwartzel joins a strong field of SA stars at Leopard Creek this week, including former world No 1 and four-time Major champion Ernie Els, former Alfred Dunhill winners Branden Grace and Brandon Stone, and rising stars Zander Lombard, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Justin Harding and Wilco Nienaber.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn and Eddie Pepperell, ranked 47th in the world, are among the international stars in the field.
Schwartzel is looking forward to making his return to the game in a tournament he won in 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Equally impressive is that he has also finished runner-up four times in the Alfred Dunhill.
The South African holds the record for the lowest tournament total of 24-under-par 264 and the biggest margin of victory of 12 strokes, which came during his 2012 triumph.
“You get courses that really suit your eye, and even though they’ve made a few changes since I last won here, I still feel very comfortable on this golf course. The bush is a place where I go to relax and here I am playing a golf tournament in the heart of the bush. It’s great.”
Stone, who returns as the last SA winner of this championship in 2016, is equally pleased to be back at a course he says is perfectly suited to his game.
“I’ve often said that I feel like this golf course was built just for me, because it feels like every hole I stand on I just love the tee shot and the way it sets up.
“Obviously you’ve got the likes of Ernie [Els] and Charl [Schwartzel] here this week, but at the moment I feel like I can compete with the best. I feel at home here … it’s the holy grail of golf in Africa.”