Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel has quietly put himself in contention for a second green jacket.
The South African, who came from behind with a stirring finish to win in 2011, put together 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to move up the leaderboard. He’s at 2-under for the tournament and four behind the leader.
Schwartzel dominated the four par-5 holes at Augusta National, playing them a combined 5-under. He birdied Nos. 2, 8 and 13 and then made an 11-foot eagle putt at No. 15.
“I hit the ball beautiful,” said Schwartzel, whose lone bogey came on No. 4. “I drove it really good and gave myself a lot of chances.”
He said with ideal conditions, there are plenty of chances for birdies on the second nine.
“If I keep swinging like I am, you never know, you get on a run and you can make a scare up on the board,” Schwartzel said.
Schwartzel survived the grueling conditions of the first two rounds, playing the first 36 holes in 2-over fashion. He knew he would have to take advantage Saturday.
“Yeah, today was obviously a lot easier conditions than what we have had the first two days,” he said. “The greens I thought were still quite receptive for Augusta standards. I’m sure tomorrow they’re going to show their teeth, but there was a good score to be made out there.”
In his 2011 win, Schwartzel closed with four consecutive birdies at Nos. 15-18 for a two-shot win over Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott.
He knows he’ll likely have to go low again Sunday.
“Probably what I did last time,” Schwartzel said. “Shoot 66 and finish with four birdies in a row, which would work.”
Schwartzel hasn’t contended in Augusta since his magical run in 2011, but he was all smiles as he left the interview area.
“What’s not to smile about after that?” Schwartzel said.