How do you top an 11-stroke win? Win by 12 the following week is one way and that’s exactly what Charl Schwartzel did in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Just seven days after leaving the field for dead in the Thailand Golf Championship, the former Masters champion was once more in a league of his own as he closed with a 69 to finish on 24-under at at Leopard Creek.
Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, who won four times between August and October in a Schwartzel-like run that earned him promotion from the Challenge Tour, won the other tournament as he claimed second place on 12 under after a 70.
Ireland’s Peter Lawrie was 15th on seven under after a closing 71 and will go into the New Year ranked 21st in the 2013 Race to Dubai following a two-week sojourn in South Africa that has earned him €24,750.
“Last week I got that win by a big margin, and normally when you come back the next week it’s hard to put up the same show,” Schwartzel said after a birdie on the dangerous 18th following a “hero” approach from the rough.
“To me that’s the most satisfying – to continue the form that I had up in Bangkok after the flight and the jetlag and come here and play the same sort of golf.”
The 28-year old South African broke a 20-month victory drought in Thailand but he’s not making bold predictions about his future or his chances of overhauling Rory McIlroy at the top of the word rankings.
“I don’t even think about anything,” he said earlier this week. “There’s been too much talk about what I want to do, but the more you force the issue the less you do it. I just want to keep playing with no expectations. Tee it up, hit the ball down the fairway, hit it on the green, make the putt and see where it leads me.
“In the back of your mind you know what you want to achieve. We all want to win golf tournaments, but I can’t be thinking about wanting to win golf tournaments, because that’s not how I’m actually going to win.
“I have to just stay right where I am and plod along. If I play the best I’ll win. That’s the way I see it.”
Roll on the Masters, where Schwartel will be joined by compatriot George Coetzee, 49th in the world starting the week but now certain of an Augusta National debut thanks to a closing 65 that gave him a share of 10th place.
As for the rest of the Irish who made the long trip south, Damien McGrane will begin 2013 ranked 82nd in the Race to Dubai after following his 54th place finish in last week’s Nelson Mandela Championship with a missed cut in Malenane.
Michael Hoey only teed it up at Leopard Creek but shot 77 in the opening round and withdrew complaining of a pulled muscle in his back.
The 33-year old has won four times on the European Tour since 2009 and taken his career earnings beyond €2.3m.
And with a new base in Dubai, he will be hoping to find more consistency in 2013 having following his 25th place in the 2011 Race to Dubai with 56th this year.
Meanwhile, on the Asian Tour, Spain’s Sergio Garcia closed with a spectacular 11-under-par 61 to win the weather-shortened, 54-hole US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open by three shots on 18 under par.
American Jonathan Moore matched Garcia’s 61 to secure his second runner-up finish this season while Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee fired a 65 to take third place at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.