Only five men have won the oldest and second oldest open championships still in existence and Louis Oosthuizen was on Wednesday reminded that he could this week add his name to that illustrious list.
“That would be really something special. To have won The Open and SA Open would be very special‚” said Oosthuizen about joining Bobby Locke‚ Gary Player‚ Bob Charles‚ Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson.
The 2010 Open champion cautioned‚ however‚ that the sheer size of the 240 player field narrows his odds of tasting success at Randpark Golf Club.
And while the suffocating heat in Gauteng this week will present a challenge to the entire field‚ Oosthuizen reminded the heat will be on in a less literal sense too.
“It’s all on how you start‚ how you get out of the blocks on Thursday and Friday‚” he said.
“We all know the cut’s going to be really low‚ so you can’t really cruise from the start. You need to start well and play well and make sure you’re there by the weekend.
“Once you’re there‚ things change. Normally at some events‚ you can sort of find your way through Thursday and Friday and put yourself in a good spot. With all these players‚ you know you’ve got to come out and make a lot of birdies.”
Despite a modest year on the PGA Tour which yielded three top 10 finishes‚ including a best placed finish of third‚ Oosthuizen is upbeat about his game.
“My game’s good‚” he said.
“It’s trending in the direction I want it to be. There’s still a lot of work to be done to really be where I want it to be‚ but I’ve been doing a lot of different things with my coach and just getting a feel for a few more things.
“I drove it pretty well at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. The putting was good. Iron play can improve‚ but all in all‚ it’s going in the direction I want it to go.”
The first two rounds of the SA Open will require the field to alternate between Randpark’s Firethorn and Bushwillow lay-outs.
Oosthuizen hasn’t played the latter for the better part of two decades.
“I’m going to play Bushwillow today (Wednesday)‚ so I don’t know if it’s a course you can go low on‚” he said.
“I don’t remember much of it. I played it for the last time in about 2000 or 2001. The greens on Firethorn were running really nicely and they were nice and firm with not that much spin which is always nice.
“I hear that Bushwillow is a little softer‚ so you can expect the guys to attack it more.”
He’ll only play Bushwillow on Friday and he’ll hope he won’t have too much lost ground to make up.