Schwartzel gunning for third straight win in his hometown Joburg Open

charl schwartzel
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If Charl Schwartzel can win again this week in Johannesburg, he would become one of only six players to win the same European Tour event three straight times.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | 3:36 p.m.

Charl Schwartzel will be looking to make it a hat trick of victories when he launches the defense of his title at the Joburg Open on Thursday.

The Johannesburg-born Schwartzel won the title at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington by six shots in 2010. He followed it up last year with a consistently top-class effort when he fired four rounds in the 60s, including a second-round 61, to finish four strokes clear of compatriot Garth Mulroy.

Should Schwartzel make it three in a row, he would become one of only six players, alongside Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, to win the same European Tour event three straight times.

For the 27-year-old, familiarity will be an advantage.

"It is a golf course I've played many times as an amateur and junior and I grew up not too far away from Royal Johannesburg so it is always nice to play the course," he said. "I've always got a good feel when I go back there and always enjoy playing the Joburg Open.

"I get to play a tournament and stay at home in my own bed, which is very cool," he added. "It is great for South Africa to have three European Tour events at the start of the year, too."

Leading the challenge will be fellow South African Retief Goosen, who last week finished third behind Louis Oosthuizen in the Africa Open.

The strong home field also includes Richard Sterne, the 2008 Joburg Open champion, who finished sixth in last week's Africa Open and compatriot Tjaart Van der Walt, who pushed Oosthuizen all the way before coming up two strokes short at East London Golf Club last week.

Argentinian Ariel Canete is another former champion in the field, having won the title in 2007, the first year the tournament was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour. English golfers Robert Rock and David Howell will also compete.