CHARL Schwartzel, South Africa's highest-ranked golfer, is comfortable with the tag of favourite going into this week's South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg.
After the withdrawal of world No3 Henrik Stenson due to a wrist injury, Schwartzel - the world No22 - is also the highest-ranked player in the field.
Schwartzel has seen his world ranking go down this season, but he doesn't feel he has played badly throughout the year.
Victory at the 103rd SA Open could kick-start the new season as it did for Stenson 12 months ago. The Swede's ranking was 71 when he won the title in 2012 but that victory boosted his confidence, enabling a climb up the rankings.
Schwartzel doesn't believe low confidence is an issue in his game, though. He is a Major champion, having won the 2011 Masters, but the SA Open title has eluded him.
"Being the favourite is a nice confidence-booster. You can feed off people thinking that you might win," Schwartzel said after his practice round yesterday.
"I want to win it [the SA Open]. If I don't win it now my time will come. It's unnecessary to put that kind of pressure on yourself.
"I know how to win and I know how to play the game. You can't get ahead of yourself and those factors sometimes make you get ahead of things. You've got to stay level-headed and stick by your plan.
"If I play well then I'll be up there. Whether I win or not . we'll find out."
Despite only enjoying a solitary victory this year, the 29-year-old believes he is not that far off finding the missing ingredient needed to win again.
The Glendower layout is unfamiliar to Schwartzel, but he has played several practice rounds and will play more before the tournament starts tomorrow.
"I played the course two weeks ago and that was the first time I've been here in 15 years," Schwartzel said. "The course was different and I didn't remember it. I made a point of playing quite a few rounds, and I'll play nine holes tomorrow [today] and that will make four full rounds for me. I've done very good preparation.
"The course is very similar to a lot of Johannesburg courses, but I think this one is the best. It has the risk and reward factor, more so than any other golf course.
"There's a big variety of golf shots you can use around here, and it's not just a course where you can pull the driver all the time. You've got to think a bit, otherwise you'll run into quite a bit of trouble."