PERTH, Australia -- Charl Schwartzel and Jason Dufner hope that picturesque Perth can inspire them to victory after taking in one of Western Australia’s top tourist attractions ahead of this week’s ISPS Handa Perth International on the European Tour.
The tournament’s two headliners made a special visit to Kings Park, one of the largest inner city parks in the world, giving spectacular views overlooking Perth City.
The ISPS Handa Perth International marks the European Tour's return to western Australia for the first time since the 2009 Australian Masters.
Both players are first-time visitors to Perth and have been taking in the sights before headlining the field in the $2 million tournament at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
On Monday night, South African Schwartzel, who holds a helicopter pilot’s licence, also took to the skies as a passenger in a helicopter to get another perspective of the West Australian coast.
“I was fortunate enough to get a bird's eye view of how Perth looks,” said the 28-year-old. “It's fantastic. We came right over the golf course. It looked so flat from the air, and then obviously we played today. It's a lot easier than what it looks from the top.
“But we had so much fun yesterday. It's my first time to Perth. I've played Melbourne and Sydney so it's nice to finally come to Perth,” he added. “I've heard so many good things about it. I played nine holes on the golf course, and it looks good, too.”
The 2011 Masters champion defeated Rory McIlory and Lee Westwood before losing to Lee Westwood in the semifinal of Turkish Airlines World Golf Final last week, and he feels he is coming back into form after a difficult season to date so far.
“I built some good confidence last week playing against them (McIlroy and Woods) and I just showed that the game is still there somewhere,” he said. “So I've got some good confidence last week and I’m really excited for this week.
“With weeks like last week you can maybe sometimes spark something, and all of a sudden feel like you actually are building some confidence. Something going your way can change things around very quickly.”
Dufner returns to action for the first time since winning three points out of a possible four in his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah Country Club, and he admits he is keen to get playing again after the United States lost to Europe on a dramatic final day.
“It's been a tough couple weeks since the Ryder Cup for myself, and toughest thing about it is you've got to wait two years again until you can play again,” he said. “That's a long time for us.
“Personally, if you have a bad event, or if you fall on your face on the last nine holes, you know that you have another event around the corner to kind of redeem yourself,” he explained. “But in that event, you have to wait two more years to have a chance to get back and win the thing.
“So there's a lot of different dynamics with the Ryder Cup and failing how we did as a team and losing the event. So it's been a tough couple weeks but I'm looking forward to playing golf again and getting over it and moving past it a little bit.”
Dufner, who plays alongside Australian Greg Chalmers and Italian Edoardo Molinari in the first two rounds, is joined in the field by fellow PGA Tour winner Bo Van Pelt, and the 2011 PGA Championship runner-up is looking forward to the challenge of taking on some of the leading European Tour players.
“It is a pretty strong field and you have a lot of guys that can play some good golf,” said Dufner. “This is becoming a major event here in Australia and I think it's good for the Australian Tour and good for the European Tour. It’s a pretty strong field for the first year and anybody can have a great week and play well.”