Charl Schwartzel failed family planning 101 for Masters champions – never risk a delivery date in early April.
The first child for Charl and Rosalind Schwartzel came March 20. Fellow South African and three-time Masters winner Gary Player tweeted: “Congratulations Rosalind & @CA_Schwartzel on the birth of your daughter Olivia. Viv, Marc & the entire Player clan are all delighted for you.”
The baby was due between April 3-8, which would have cut it close for this year’s Masters.
Schwartzel will have to leave his wife and daughter behind at their home in South Florida while he tries to collect another green jacket. How the life-changing experience affects Schwartzel’s game at Augusta is unknown.
“I think those sort of things can either work really in your favor or completely against you,” he said. “It’s very seldom where it’s in-between in situations like that. I’m just really excited for our first child.”
Schwartzel already senses how different life will be with an infant as they travel the world playing golf.
“It’s a lot of luggage for a little person,” he said. “I’ve been putting most of it up but I can see it’s going to be a lot of luggage.”
Fatherhood isn’t the only upheaval in Schwartzel’s life as he approaches his 30th birthday this summer. He cut ties with Chubby Chandler’s management agency in February. Chandler had been looking out for Schwartzel since he was a 16-year-old amateur.
“Just felt like a change,” Schwartzel said of his free-agent status as he shopped around for new management. “It was nothing personal, nothing anyone did wrong. … Sometimes in life you’ve got to maybe give yourself an opportunity to try something else.”
His game, however, is in familiar form. For the second consecutive winter he won a tournament in Asia and the Alfred Dunhill Championship in his native South Africa. He’s maintained a consistent top-20 ranking for all but a few months since he birdied the last four holes to win the 2011 Masters.
“I’m really feeling good,” he said. “I think my strength for the last few months has really been my putting. I just don’t have a nice feel for it at the moment playing on so many different greens. It doesn’t feel bad and it’s not something that I’m worried about. It’s just I’m hitting a lot of putts that are going over edges. If I can change that I think I’ll be OK.”
Schwartzel let another decent chance at Augusta slip away last year. A pair of 71s had him among the top 10 a few strokes off the lead entering the weekend before rounds of 75-73 sent him tumbling to a tie for 25th.
“That golf course can very quickly get you,” he said. “If it goes wrong it feels like it’s really hard to stop. I just had one of those tough weekends. You feel like you’re not hitting bad shots but getting bad results and then eventually you do hit a bad shot and get a really bad result. It was one of those weekends you maybe want to forget.”