By Julian Linden
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Twelve months after his stunning victory in the Masters, Charl Schwartzel is back at Augusta National and feeling confident about his chances and determined to prove his win was no fluke.
The South African said he felt a sudden tingle in his spine when he drove down Magnolia Lane, the short road that leads to the Augusta National clubhouse, as the memories of his amazing victory came flooding back.
But rather than be overawed by his ability to triumph at the Masters in only his second attempt, Schwartzel felt a calming surge of confidence that he could do it again.
"I have a different mind‑set coming into this event knowing that you've won," he told a news conference on Tuesday.
"I almost expect myself to win. I feel like I'm playing good enough. I feel like if I've done it before, why can't I do it again."
Schwartzel was presented with the winner's green jacket after producing the greatest finish in the 75-year history of the Masters, making birdies on each of the last four holes to clinch his first major title by two shots.
His life changed forever but not everything has gone according to plan for the 27-year-old since then. Although he has played consistently well and finished in the top 16 at each of the next three majors, he has been unable to reproduce his brilliant finish at the Masters.
He has not won a won a tournament since last year's Masters and comes into the first major of 2012 after missing the cut at his last two PGA Tour events.
"It has been pretty overwhelming. My life basically changed overnight," he said.
"When I got back home, I didn't realise how big it was, how many people actually saw it. Wherever I went, people congratulated, and still do. It doesn't seem to ease down. It doesn't stop, and it's fantastic."
As the defending champion, one of Schwartzel's final responsibilities ahead of the April 5-8 Masters is to host the annual champions dinner at Augusta National, which includes selecting the menu.
He opted for a braai, a traditional South African barbecue, and had planned to do all the cooking himself until he thought better of it.
"I don't want to get too much oil on my green jacket, either," he joked. "To be honest, I am nervous and very excited. I'm going to be around obviously past champions and legends that I never got to see play.
"We see the highlights of how these guys did it, and I'm going to be in a room with them. I think it's going to be an unbelievable evening."
Schwartzel found a South African in Georgia who helped him get some of the traditional foods for the braai, including biltong, a cured meat similar to beef jerky, but said he had to give some reassurance to the Augusta National chefs after including monkey gland sauce on the menu.
"It's got nothing related to the name," he said. There's no monkey and there's no gland.
"It is a sauce that's pretty familiar in South Africa in all the restaurants. You put it over your meat. It's a bit of chutney Worcester sauce and some onion."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)