NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Charl Schwartzel took one look at the putt heading toward Mount Hood before stopping halfway down the hole on the 13th green at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club and couldn’t resist.
“Aside from your line and speed, it was a pretty good putt,” he said.
The rest of the group at Wednesday’s pro-am, including the two fans and teammate and longtime friend Louis Oosthuizen, laughed.
After all, a lot of that has happened at Schwartzel’s home in Jupiter since he won the inaugural LIV Golf Series event in London three weeks ago and pocketed $4.75 million in checks, $4 million for the title. individual and $750,000 for being part of the Winning Team. That was more than he had earned in a year in two decades on the PGA Tour, including 2011 when he won the Masters.
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“That’s it,” said Schwartzel, being honest about why LIV Golf has attracted more PGA Tour players than expected, “it’s beyond anyone’s imagination. You can’t lie (and say) it’s not about of money. There’s a lot of money out there and it’s more than any man has ever played with.”
It’s refreshing to see someone peeling back their layers and getting to the real truth of why someone would face criticism to join the series that is being funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
First LIV golfer to notice the money boom
Schwartzel, 37, became the first example of LIV’s financial boom. The South African, who has lived in Palm Beach County for 12 years, won the Masters and the 2016 Valspar Championship, never earning $3 million in PGA Tour prize money in a year.
He’s certainly lived a comfortable life earning $21 million on tour and having owned a house at the Old Palm Club in Palm Beach Gardens, but now rents at the Bear’s Club. But in three days in London he did about a quarter of what he did in 20 years.
Still, Schwartzel said money never crossed his mind as he tried to hold off Hennie Du Plessis in London, thinking only of winning.
“Losing would have hurt a lot more than the money,” he said.
Schwartzel is aware of the backlash players are receiving. He is aware of what has happened in Saudi Arabia. But his comfort zone and escape is golf.
“I don’t know enough about all these things and I’ve been like that my whole life,” he said. “I love playing golf. I know there’s a lot going on. If you get caught up in all that, your golf falls apart.”
“So just try to play a game, focus on golf.”
Schwartzel has focused on golf since he began dominating the amateur ranks in South Africa, along with his friend Oosthuizen, whom he has known for 37 years. And as Schwartzel found more success on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa and on the European Tour, fellow South African and Hall of Famer Ernie Els told him that if he wanted to play more in America, he had a place to stay in Jupiter. with the Els’.
In 2010, Schwartzel walked into the WGC event in Doral and asked Ernie if the offer was still up. He said he did and Schwartzel and his wife Rosalind moved in with Ernie and Liezl.
That visit lasted nearly two years before Schwartzel decided, “I can’t stay with a man forever.
“So we rented a place, then we bought a place. It wasn’t planned. It just happened.”
Oosthuizen soon followed his friend and they became neighbors in Old Palm. Oosthuizen recently moved to Ocala.
“It’s different to have a barbecue and not invite him,” Oosthuizen said.
Charl and Rosalind now have two children and are hosting Rosalind’s parents, Brian and Colleen Jacobs, who arrived from South Africa before the pandemic and have not returned. Brian, a longtime professional golfer in South Africa, is also Charl’s manager.
Rosalind and the kids were in London for Charl’s LIV victory and Brian and Collen are at the tournament this week. Brian saw Charl’s London one-stroke win over Du Plessis and said he approved of his strategy on the 54th hole. Schwartzel played it safe, knowing a bogey would win the tournament.
“It was a very smart play,” Brian said. “The idea was that you don’t have to be a hero, you just have to win.”
Joining LIV, quitting the PGA Tour is not an easy decision for Charl Schwartzel
LIV came at the right time for Schwartzel, but the decision to relinquish his PGA Tour membership was not an easy one. Politics aside, Schwartzel had some research to do.
“The more you met with the guys and saw that it wasn’t a scam and that they were really serious about it and had long-term views, I started to get a lot more interested,” Schwartzel said. “Especially at my age.”
You could say that Schwartzel has already won the lottery. But now he’s aiming for the Powerball. He believes his best golf is yet to come after suffering a wrist injury in mid-2019 that forced him to take about 10 months off.
Since then, he has made 54 starts on the PGA Tour with just seven top-10 finishes. But he said last year was the first time in a long time that he was injury-free. The results are now beginning to show.
“Now I have more speed than ever in my life. I have more experience,” he said. “I just feel like I have a lot of things going for me that I didn’t have even when I was playing well. All of those things added together could potentially give me better golf than I ever played.”
And much more money.
Tom D’Angelo is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at [email protected]