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February 16 2013

9:54 PM

Schwartzel: Game must be on 'song'

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The last two events Charl Schwartzel played on the European Tour he shot a combined 44 under, winning one by 12 and finishing second in the other. Oh, and there was that 11-stroke victory in Thailand, too.

So seeing the South African contending in his 2013 PGA TOUR debut at the Northern Trust Open shouldn't exactly surprise anyone.

"I've had a good run and been consistent, just see if we can keep going with it," Schwartzel said simply.

Granted, Riviera Country Club hasn't been quite as generous to Schwartzel -- or anyone else in the field, for that matter. But he'll start the final round in the final group in a three-way tie for second with Webb Simpson and John Merrick, three strokes behind front-running Bill Haas.

Schwartzel shot his 11th consecutive round in the 60s on Saturday, posting a 68 to move to 9 under for the week. Given how firm and fast Riviera has become the 2011 Masters champ was quite pleased after making five birdies and dropping just two strokes to par.

"It was a lot tougher today than the other days," Schwartzel said. "The course firmed up a lot. The greens are getting firm and bouncy, and it becomes hard to get the ball close to make birdies and even to keep the bogeys off the card. You need to be on song with your whole game." 

And make no mistake -- Schwartzel, who is playing in the Northern Trust Open for the first time, knows he's hitting on all cylinders right now. So expect the veteran to play smart and take advantage of the opportunities he's afforded Sunday as he seeks his second PGA TOUR win.

"The way I'm playing, I don't think I'll change anything," Schwartzel said. "I'll just keep going along, and like I said, the course is tough, and it's easy to make mistakes. We'll see. If I can keep giving myself chances, I'm bound to shoot a decent score, and we'll see what Bill does."

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