With no less than eight local players in the International Presidents Cup team as it currently stands, Charl Schwartzel believes the overwhelming South African presence can only be beneficial when the biennial team event tees off in October.
After his share of eighth at the Memorial Tournament on the weekend, the 28-year-old reached new levels of comfort in the top-10, alongside Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Tim Clark, Richard Sterne and George Coetzee.
The remaining three berths belong to top-ranked Adam Scott, fellow Australian Jason Day and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
“It’s going to be to our benefit because normally you’ve got players from all over the world,” said Schwartzel last week after his opening round of seven-under-par 65, which gave him a one shot lead heading into the weekend.
“And as we all know, you sort of stick with the guys that you know from the same country. So I think it will be a big benefit if there are a lot of South Africans.”
Adding his touch to the strong Southern African camaraderie is Nick Price, who made the trip to Jack’s tournament last weekend to keep an eye on potential captain’s picks.
Having spent time with Schwartzel, Els and Oosthuizen in Florida earlier this year, Price has had the opportunity to lay out his vision for the team.
“We’ve had a few meetings. I just think it’s going to be a relaxed atmosphere with Nick around. And I think, in most cases, when people are relaxed, they play their best,” said the 2011 Masters Champion.
“He’s asked us to spend a bit of time on certain parts of our games, but I think at the end of the day he wants us to walk off on Sunday and everyone, as a team, had a really good time. It would be great if we win, but I think he’s the type of guy where he’s very relaxed and everyone likes him. I think it’s going to be a good week.”
Schwartzel made a promising start to his Presidents Cup career, collecting four-and-a-half points at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 2011, before going down 15-19 to the Americans who have had the upper hand since Fancourt in 2003 when matters were tied at 17-all.
He expects nothing less against a formidable US line-up at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, between October 1 and 6.
“I’m sure we are the underdogs. The stats don’t lie. You don’t want to be negative, but if you look at the American team, I haven’t looked recently, but most of the time the top-13 in the world will be in their whole team just about. Whereas the International side can go out to 70th,” said the world No 15.
“So matchplay, 18 holes, anything can happen. But at the end of the day, the guys – the guy that’s 30th is more consistent than the guy that’s 60th. That’s why he’s 30th. So coming down the stretch they do have a stronger team.”