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September 3 2011

10:58 PM

Schwartzel makes birdies in bunches

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

NORTON, Mass. -- Charl Schwartzel was, to say the least, "fairly upset" when he bogeyed the 18th hole at TPC Boston on Saturday.

The second shot that strayed left of the green on the par 5 and the three-putt bogey that ensued capped a frustrating opening nine for the reigning Masters champion. And to make matters worse, "I probably gave up two shots to the field there," Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel The South African knows what it's like to get on a run, though. After all, this is the man who birdied the final four holes at Augusta National on Sunday last April to earn his Green Jacket.

So Schwartzel shook off any lingering anger when he opted for a driver instead of his normal 5-wood on the first tee, then wedged from 67 yards to 7 feet for the first of what would become six birdies in a seven-hole stretch. Suddenly, the 27-year-old found himself tied for the lead at 10 under with Bubba Watson and Adam Scott at the midway point of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

"It's sometimes very crucial to come back straightaway, otherwise your round can get away from you," Schwartzel said in understatement. "The birdie on the first just got me going in the right mindset again. Great tee shot down 2, and all of a sudden, I felt like, wow, I can do this again."

Schwartzel had entered the second event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup ranked 28th after falling seven spots when he skipped last week's opener at The Barclays. He opted for the break because he wanted to avoid a stretch that would see him on the road for 13 weeks while he played golf in six different countries.

"It's just a bit too long for me to carry on,” Schwartzel said. “… In order to take a proper break you need two weeks in order to sit down and do nothing for a week and then start preparing for the next."

When the refreshed Schwartzel walked off the course on Saturday afternoon, he was projected at No. 4 in the FedExCup standings. Granted, there's a lot of golf remaining, but the South African is certainly gaining ground in the face for the $10 million bonus.

So was Schwartzel, who is a rookie on the PGA TOUR this year, aware that both Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk won the FedExCup without playing in the first Playoffs event?  

"I was," he said with a smile. "... It's quite a good omen."

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