At one point during his Tuesday teleconference in advance of the upcoming Masters, defending champion Charl Schwartzel was asked what he would do differently in preparation for the season’s first major as opposed to last year.
“Nothing,” he said with a laugh. “Last year worked.”
Despite the glib response, Schwartzel understands that competing one year after winning the event will have a much different feel than the under-the-radar sense he incurred in his second career appearance last April.
“I think probably the biggest challenge this year is there's obviously going to be more eyes on you, people would want to see whether you can live up to the challenge,” he explained. “But that's something I have to get around in my head not to worry about. I have to go out there and treat it as a new tournament, just give it my best. As long as I prepare properly, give the golf the attention it needs that week.”
During his lengthy teleconference, Schwartzel discussed the vaunted prize he received for winning – and how much he enjoyed showing it off.
“There's something about the jacket,” he said. “Every single time you put it on, you get this very, very proud feeling. I wore it, I don't know how many times. It traveled with me the whole of last year. Basically every single function that we went to, I wore it. I have no idea. I mean, I played 36 tournaments last year. I must have worn it more than 20, 25 times at some functions.”
In one of his final gestures as defending champion, Schwartzel will host the annual Champions Dinner prior to this year’s tournament. He’s already hinted that he would like to have an old fashioned barbecue… and the guy manning the grill will be none other than himself.
Though he explained that the idea still needs approval from Augusta National officials, he described how he envisions the meal.
“I just find sometimes that I don't enjoy these functions that are formal,” Schwartzel said. “You sit down, the food comes. I like it to be fun and relaxed, something that everyone will eat. If you bring in funny sort of foods, not everyone eats it. That's not what you want. I think everybody must be able to eat it and everybody must be able to enjoy it. That's what I do when I'm home on my off time. Basically every night I cook meat on the fire.”
“We'll put some lamb chops, fillet steaks, a thing we call boerewors. It's a sausage that is very sort of famous in South Africa. I'm going to get to some South African shops in the United States and order some of those sausages and things.”