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Glacier Junior Series players receive Masters class from Schwartzel

28 Apr 2011

Xander Prinsloo with the 2011 Masters Champion

It took the 96 junior golfers scattered around the driving range at Maccauvlei Golf Club a minute or two to realise the man walking among them was the 2011 Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel.

It took just a couple of seconds for the group to settle down, eager for tips from the man who tamed Augusta on Sunday, April 10.

The 26-year-old Schwartzel had interrupted a trip to the Bushveld with some friends to slip quietly onto the driving range and host a clinic for the players who had entered his Glacier Junior Series golf day on Tuesday.

Schwartzel spend half an hour showing the youngsters different aspects of his practice routine, including grip, stance, posture, rhythm and balance. Then he spent the next 30 minutes answering all their questions about facing fear, handling pressure and how to win.

"They were a little nervous to start with, which is understandable, but once they got going, there was no stopping them," said Schwartzel. "I have to say, I really loved all the questions, because that shows that they are really interested."

Zander Prinsloo, who made sure he was at the front and centre when the Masters Champion began to dish out autographs, couldn't believe he was standing right next to Schwartzel.

"He came to the tournament last year, but then he won the Masters," said the 11-year-old from Northcliff in Johannesburg.

"I think we all hoped he would come again, but I don't think we really expected him to show up; it's like having our own Tiger Woods right here in South Africa."

Sanlam SA Women's Stroke Play B-Division winner, Woo Ju Son, was just as thrilled to meet her new hero, especially after Schwartzel explained a technique to stay calm down the home stretch.

"I lost the match play because I got too nervous," said the pint-sized 10-year-old from Bryanston Golf Club. "He explained how to breathe slowly to calm yourself for 10 seconds before you hit the shot. It's so simple, but it makes perfect sense."

Like the other top South African professional golfers and industry leaders that host the 30 Glacier Junior Series events around the country, Schwartzel thinks the series is a great initiative to provide the junior golfers with more opportunities to gain competitive experience.

"I think we owe it to the younger generation to share our knowledge and experience," he said. "The only way these young guys can improve, is through competition.

"The Glacier Junior Series events are very well run. They are like real tournaments. I love the way the players have to register and collect goodie bags when they arrive. They are treated like real little professionals. It gives them a taste of what's to come."

The 2011 Masters Champion also left the competitors with one important message:

"Never forget this: anything is possible," he said. "I started right here, just like you guys. I watched guys like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Nick Price and Tiger Woods the way you are now watching Louis (Oosthuizen) and I.

"I use to watch every shot, every birdie and every bogey. I have to admit I was a little envious and I dreamt about the day that I could win on that stage.

"Now you guys are watching me and you're thinking the same thing I was thinking. I've done it and I was one of you so I want every one of you to realise that you can achieve your dreams if you work head enough at it."

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