Schwartzel regains confidence at Valspar
Former Masters champion shot the best round of the day and defeated Bill Haas in a playoff
March 13, 2016
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Charl Schwartzel had two late birdies to close with a 4-under 67 and get into a playoff. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel went nearly five years without a win on the PGA TOUR before Sunday's playoff victory over Bill Haas at the Valspar Championship. Here's how it all went down ...
1. GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Charl Schwartzel was on top of the world when he birdied his final four holes to win the Masters in 2011. He knew he had the game to win again and he thought sure it would happen -- soon.
So how come it took four years and 48 weeks for Schwartzel to pick up his next win on the PGA TOUR? Well, basically, he had a crisis of confidence after his swing went south.
"It was a snowball in the wrong direction," the South African admitted.
He was so frustrated by the way he was playing, in fact, that Schwartzel considered skipping the FedExCup Playoffs last year.
"(I thought about) just saying let's just start over, let's just get your game in the right shape and then make this year a good year, you know," Schwartzel said. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it was but I needed confidence."
So Schwartzel spent most of the offseason in his homeland, working with his father, who is his only swing coach.
"He gave me all old feelings and sort of things that we used to work on that I had forgotten to work on again and made it very simple," Schwartzel said.
He started to feel like his old self during The Presidents Cup in Korea last October. Two wins in South Africa earlier this year were further verification.
"I started trusting it and started believing it," Schwartzel said. "Then winning in South Africa helped because there you're hitting good shots under pressure to win. That gets your confidence up."
Schwartzel certainly played with confidence under difficult conditions on Sunday at the Copperhead Course. And now he heads back to Augusta National in three weeks with the elusive commodity that had once been in such short supply.
"There's nothing like that that gets you pumped like winning," Schwartzel said. "It's a place I feel very comfortable with and for me the best thing of all of it I've actually got my fade back. ...
"All over it's a really good boost to going back and starting the first year, first major of the year. I mean it's a really exciting week and always look forward to it."
Charl Schwartzel victorious in playoff at the Valspar Championship
2. MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The second shot at the 16th hole, the one that he dumped in the bunker after a perfect drive that had him licking his chops, will stay with Haas for a while. Ditto for the bunker shot on the first playoff hole that scooted 21 feet past the hole.
"That bunker shot, a 12 handicapper could have done that," Haas said. "That was pretty bad."
At the same time, though, the overnight leader was determined to find some bright spots in Sunday's playoff defeat. Even though he felt like he was "hanging on by a thread at times," Haas managed to maintain his advantage until the bogey at the 16th hole.
"I made some nice par saves and grinding my butt off," he said. "... I was one putt away from winning and so you got to take the positives and say that you can do it. I hit a great iron at 17. A decent iron at 18. I thought I made the putt to win.
"I'm not going to say that I gave it to him but I certainly could have shot better than 1 over today I think."
Schwartzel, meanwhile, applied the pressure with a round of 67 -- the lowest of the day -- that included a prayer of a 64-foot birdie at the 13th hole. Haas took news of that blow philosophically.
"That stuff happens," he said. "That's what winners do and winners don't bogey two of their last four holes they play."
Shot of the Day
Charl Schwartzel buries a 64-foot birdie putt for the Shot of the Day
3. MIND OVER MATTER: Jordan Spieth smiled as he walked off the 18th hole at the Copperhead Course with a birdie on Sunday. But he wasn't particularly pleased with some of the decisions that he and his caddie Michael Greller made during the rest of the round of 73.
"Our decisions cost us a few shots early and all the momentum," said Spieth, who finished even par for the week and tied for 18th in his title defense. "We both get the credit when things are going good and we're going to take the fall today.
"I hit the shots but we made a couple decisions that make me look back and think wow, we got some stuff to talk about before we get ready to go into a major. Bit of a bummer. But it's okay. We got plenty of time."
The World No. 1 said his ball-striking is close to where he wants it to be for the Masters, which will be the second of his five title defenses this year. But he'd love to go deep in the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play two weeks from now to get the competitive juices flowing again.
"But yeah, nice come back this week, all in all," said Spieth, who rallied to make the cut after opening with a 76. "After the first day looked like everything was kind of going the golf course's way and found a way to fight back."
The key, Spieth says, is getting off to a better start, which will also be important at the match play event in Austin, Texas, where he went to college.
"Can't start over-par in rounds every single round and expect to do anything with it," said Spieth, who hasn't cracked the top 10 in the four events he's played since winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. "Just too hard to turn around all the time. I'm used to getting off to good starts. Unfortunately this week started black before red quite a few times."“I’ve always dreamt of just getting a tee time here on Thursday. Being in contention on Sunday (and) playing with the No. 1 player in the world is something that didn't cross my mind. I really had to pinch myself a few times today.”
4. BACK TO WORK: Lee McCoy had a busy Sunday night ahead of him. Not because of all those texts and phone calls he was sure to get after that brilliant fourth-place finish at the Valspar Championship, though.
Actually, the University of Georgia senior was about to embark on a seven-hour drive to Athens, Georgia, where the Dawgs are hosting the Southern Intercollegiate on Monday morning.
"Luckily we're riding in carts," McCoy said. "That's the little bit of hope I'm hanging on to right now."
McCoy, who grew up at Innisbrook Resort, should have plenty to think about during the drive, too, after playing with Spieth in the final round at the Copperhead Course. The world's eighth-ranked amateur shot 66-69 on the weekend, the latter score beating the world No. 1 by four strokes.
Spieth was impressed by his fellow 22-year-old.
"The way he was talking, couldn't sense any nerves or anything on his putting stroke, either," he said. "He's certainly really ready to be out here. It was really fun to watch."
McCoy, who played one round in a college event with Spieth several years ago, called the experience "surreal." He was blown away by the way Spieth treated him, too.
"At the end of the day I'm still a little college am scrub playing out here with these guys trying to fit in but the guy had nothing but great things to say and treated me like I really belonged out here," McCoy said. "It's pretty cool."
CALL OF THE DAY: Mark Carnevale calls Charl Schwartzel's par on No. 18 on the first playoff hole to win the Valspar Championship.
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Euphoria. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/85pOS3iu5w— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 13, 2016
Pinch me— Lee McCoy (@LeeMcCoyGolf) March 13, 2016
The last four winners on the PGA TOUR.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 13, 2016
Reminder: The Masters is 4 weeks away. pic.twitter.com/r7u5V41NYN