PGA Tour

SA golf star Schwartzel thinks of bigger picture during 'unique situation'

Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)

It's been a bittersweet few months for South African golfer Charl Schwartzel.

In June last year, Schwartzel was forced to cut his season short with a wrist injury. Five months later, he made his return and since then he has shown some glimpses of his former self.

However, that's been put on hold due to the global coronavirus crisis.

Speaking exclusively to Sport24 from his home in Florida, the 2011 Masters champion acknowledged his frustration at not playing soon after recovering from an injury.

"It's been very frustrating, last year I didn't play in an event for five months. I got back and I actually played well when I started and then this whole pandemic happened," Schwartzel said.

But here's the sweet part to this lockdown, earlier this year Schwartzel and his wife Rosalind welcomed a baby boy and the South African could not be happier to spend some quality time with his new-born son and family.

"There's a lot of things that I wouldn't have experienced if I was playing, we've got a new-born, he is four months old, and if I played I wouldn't have seen him grow and change these last two months."

Schwartzel admitted that it would be selfish of him to think only of golf during this uncertain time.

"It's frustrating, I would've loved to keep playing but there's a bigger issue that everybody is facing and to think about us not playing golf is a bit selfish," said Schwartzel.

"This is a very unique situation and something we hopefully will never experience again... Somewhere, somehow we'll get a vaccine and the world will sort of get back to - what we know as - normal. I'm not sure when that's going to be, but it'll happen. I don't think it's going to be this way forever."

The PGA Tour confirmed plans to resume in June with the first four tournaments being closed to spectators. 

The Tour announced that coronavirus testing and daily temperature readings will be taken by players and caddies before entering the golf course.

Only PGA staff, tournament workers, trainers and coaches will be permitted, while family members are not allowed on site.

Schwartzel admitted that it's going to be frustrating to adhere to all the necessary safety precautions but believes it's for the good of everyone.

"I think the first few tournaments back will be different as they'll be with no spectators," said the 36-year-old.

"You can't even take family to the golf course, it's going to be strictly get to the golf course, do your thing and then leave. I think your hours after the round is going to be quite frustrating because you'll be stuck in a hotel room where normally you can go watch a movie or do something. Those sorts of things will change."

The PGA Tour's revised schedule gets underway with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, starting on 11 June.

Schwartzel revealed that he is in good shape and still practises weekly at his local golf course in Florida.

"The lockdown (in America) is a bit easier as the lockdown in South Africa, I feel sorry for you guys back home," said Schwartzel.

"We've got some golf courses open and I've been able to practice two or three times a week. So I've been able to get outside the house and I've been working out so I'm in good shape when I can play again."

READ | GolfRSA CEO urges all SA golfers to pay club membership fees

South Africa is currently in lockdown Level 4 to help combat the spread of Covid-19 with golf courses closed around the country.

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