MORE INTERVIEWS: the Memorial Tournament transcripts
CHRIS REIMER: We'd like to welcome Charl Schwartzel into the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament. Solid opening round, 7‑under, currently the clubhouse lead. Talk about some opening comments about today, and especially the bounceback on the final hole to get that birdie on the final hole, what that meant.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: The birdie on the last definitely will make my evening a lot better.
I felt like I played really well, just kept making‑‑ sort of ticking the ball over and got it to 8‑under. Just had a bad one on No. 8, made a double. And that was the very worst I played all day.
CHRIS REIMER: If you can talk through with these guys about the change on 13. You said you had a short missed putt there and decided to change your grip midway through the round.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I've been tinkering with grip, holding the putter. Obviously I haven't been putting that great since Byron Nelson or for quite a bit of time of the year. But hitting the ball good. And started off the same thing this morning, flushed it for the first four holes and two‑putted for birdie on 11.
And hit it to four foot on 13, looked like I was going to go 2‑under and I made bogey.
Went to the next hole, changed the grip and they started pouring in. So it worked.
Q. Can you demonstrate what you changed with the grip?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: It's very small. Beginning of the year, most of last year, held the putter normal, like normally. And since the Masters I've been having my finger down the shaft, still normal, just this finger down instead of this way (indicating.) And I've putted like that since the Masters with the finger down.
And today I thought let me go back to normal, which obviously what I've been doing wasn't working. I had a few days tips or talks with Mark McNulty and Nick Price out there on the putting green on Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought I'm going to do what they say and go back to a normal grip. And it just didn't feel very comfortable. It felt really shaky. I switched back to my finger down the shaft and sort of changed the ball position like Mark said and that felt comfortable. As you know, putting is all about comfort at the end of the day.
Q. Did you move the ball forward, back‑‑
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: A bit forward, yeah.
Q. Just to clarify, Charl, you make birdie on the last, the evening is going to be good. What would happen if you made par?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, it would still be okay. But, you know, it's really when you've played that well and you're thinking‑‑ you get those few rounds a year where you really strike it well and you're making lots of birdies and you walk off with your 8‑, 9‑under.
And today was one of those where I really did flush it. And you're thinking maybe another birdie after 9. And then get knocked back with a little 8‑iron making double.
Q. How did you make a double?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Hit it in the bunker, but it finished on the downslope, on the other side. Even if I hit it good, it would have rolled over. I tried to spin it and chipped it out and missed the putt, very quickly.
Q. You mentioned Nick and Mark out there. I just wondered, we've talked to Nick a couple of times about captaining here in October. I wonder how much he's been talking to you guys through the course of this year about the kind of team that he wants to have here. Has he talked to you much?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I mean, we've had a few meetings. And obviously I see Nick a lot; I spend quite a bit of time with him. I just think it's going to be really sort of a relaxed atmosphere with Nick around. And I think in most cases when people are relaxed, they play their best. 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. Obviously it would be great if we can 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 really sort of a good week.
Q. How often do you look at the standings? And when you do, what do you think of when you see "SAF" all the way down the right side of the table?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: It seems that way, I don't know, I suppose in a way it's going to be to our benefit because normally you've got players from all over the world. And as we all know, you sort of stick with the guy or guys that you know from the same country. So the list, as opposed to the different countries there are, the more of a team it will be. So I think it will be a big benefit if there's a lot of South Africans and there are a lot of Australians.
Q. So many of South Africans are in the top‑50 right now, what's going on? Why this recent surge in the last couple of years, do you think?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I don't know. I always think you look up to your idols and you sort of set your bar to where you want to get to.
Ernie and Retief set it so high for so long. And maybe with myself and Louis winning Majors and competing a bit, more guys like George and Brandon set the bar towards us. So I think a lot has got to do with that.
Q. There's a point, at least in the modern era, what Greg has meant to Australian golf, Ernie has had or can have that effect in South Africa, do you see that?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Yeah, definitely. I think it started off with Gary, obviously. But from my side, Gary‑‑ I never saw him hit a shot in tournament in his prime. It was way before my time.
Q. He still thinks he's in his prime.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: He sure does. He sure does (laughter).
But I think Ernie and Retief, they were in the era where golf really started getting bigger and bigger. So they were the guys that we looked up to. So that meant a lot for South Africa.
Q. What major moment of either of those stand out for you? Of the six Majors, which one stands out the most for you as a kid growing up?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: Well, you know, the one I can remember is Ernie at Congressional, when he won the U.S. Open. And I've got also lots of memories of him and Retief at the Nedbank or Million Dollar at that time in South Africa. We were really anxious to see them play. Those were special moments for us.
Q. Do you guys feel like you're in the underdogs because of the history in the The Presidents Cup. And do you think that the way the system is stacked, is stacked against you guys?
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: I'm sure we are the underdogs. The stats don't lie. You don't want to be negative in a way, but if you look at the American team, I haven't looked currently, but most of the time top 13 in the world will be the whole team just about. Where the International side can go out to 70th in the world. So match play, 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.
Nick suggested at the time it be more like the Ryder Cup where less guys play so you can play a stronger side. But that's not going to happen, so we'll deal with it.