By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Charl Schwartzel has little affection for Wentworth and the intermittent rain and chilly 30kph winds tipped him over the edge on Friday as the former U.S. Masters champion slumped to a six-over-par 78.
The 29-year-old South African could barely feel his fingers on the shafts of his clubs and his demeanor was helped none by soreness in his right wrist, an injury that had almost forced him to pull out midway through the BMW PGA Championship second round.
Schwartzel ballooned to a nine-over 44 on the front nine before a brief spell of late afternoon sunshine prompted a 10-shot improvement on the inward half.
"I don't know where to start, there were certainly a lot of golf shots out there," he told Reuters in an interview after missing the halfway cut by a considerable margin.
"I struggle with the cold, I really do. Once I get that cold in my hands they start freezing up.
"It's all about feel and I just don't know what I'm doing out there when that happens. I also had a few bad breaks and that all quickly adds up to quite a few bogeys."
Schwartzel, who lifted the Alfred Dunhill Championship title in his native South Africa in December, managed only five pars throughout his round but five birdies on the back nine softened the blow for the 2011 Masters winner.
"It warmed up through the ninth hole but my wrist was starting to get sore," he said. "I have a little problem with it when the weather gets cold.
"It ached a lot from about the fifth and I kept hitting bad shots. I thought on the ninth that I might not make it through to the end but then it started to warm up and I began to get the feeling back in my hands and began playing well."
Schwartzel has less than happy memories of the European Tour's flagship event, having missed the cut in five of his previous nine starts and only once featuring in the top 10 when he finished tied sixth in 2009.
"I've never played well here at Wentworth and I think it's mostly down to the weather," he explained.
"I've had one good week and I remember there was sunshine all week that time. It's a pity."
Asked if hatred was too strong a word to describe his feelings towards the iconic West Course on the outskirts of London, he replied: "No, hate's pretty much right up there.
"There are lots of really good players that have never done well here so maybe there is something to be said about that.
"I won't be playing in cold weather again this season, that's for sure," joked Schwartzel.
(Editing by Ossian Shine)