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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

In the swing: Oosthuizen shows post-Masters mettle

The Masters runner-up has recovered impressively from his disappointment, writes Neil Cullen.

Oosthuizen has looked very impressive of late.
Oosthuizen has looked very impressive of late.

FAIR PLAY TO Louis Oosthuizen. It must have been pretty sickening to lose the Masters in a playoff, so to fly to the other side of the world and register a European Tour victory in the space of a week is highly admirable.

Whatever about the physical fatigue of flying from Augusta to Malaysia, the mental fatigue must have been even more difficult to overcome. Golf is mentally draining at the best of times and I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster that must have to be navigated on a Sunday at the Masters when you’re in contention and then in a playoff.

It must be a pretty low feeling to then be beaten in that playoff, even if your opponent does pull off one of the greatest shots in Masters history to snatch victory away from you.

To come out and win the next week is a huge credit to Louis Oosthuizen. You couldn’t but be impressed by his play at the Masters and he has managed to build on that straight away. He has a swing that displays sublime balance and control and it would seem like the ingredients are there for him to have a very successful season this year.

In his last three tournaments he has finished third, second and first. His win at the Maybank Malaysian Open was actually his second victory of 2012. In the very first tournament of the year he took home the Africa Open, a tournament he successfully defended having also won the event in 2011.

His form has shot him up 28 places in the world rankings since the start of the year from number 40 to number 12 and it would be no surprise to see him break into the top 10 in the very near future. There is no doubt that if he keeps up his current standard of golf it’s a matter of when, not if.

It’s been a pretty quick rise for Oosthuizen. When he won the British Open back in 2010 he was fairly unheralded. He had won his first European Tour event earlier that year, the Open de Andalucia, and he also had a handful of victories on the Sunshine Tour, but he was not thought of as a potential Major winner. In fact, he’d only ever made the cut in a Major on one occasion prior to winning the Open – it was a 73rd place finish at the 2008 PGA Championship, a tournament won of course by Padraig Harrington.

It would not be unreasonable to think that he can go on and win more Majors. His swing is looking immaculate at the moment and the recent signs are that he can now bring his best form to the table on a consistent basis. It’s a pretty potent combination.

Add to that – and some would argue that this is even more important – the fact that he has already won a Major. He knows how to get it done.

During the final round of the Masters, particularly after he made that famous albatross on the par-five second, he was many people’s favourite to go on and win the tournament. It wasn’t purely the fact that he had the lead, much of the reasoning behind that belief was the fact that he had won a Major already. The ‘monkey off the back’ analogy was being used to essentially say that there wasn’t as much pressure on him.

The amount of truth behind that belief could be debated. Whether he has won a Major or not, he surely wants to win another and when he is in contention, I’m sure he is putting plenty of pressure on himself to win. The difference is, though, he has the experience of winning to draw upon. Winning a Major is already in his brain and in his muscle memory.

It didn’t work out for him two weeks ago at the Masters, but in Louis Oosthuizen we are looking at a guy who has his best years ahead of him and has a real chance at adding to his Major tally. At a minimum, he is a guy who will be going into every tournament believing he can win and the rest of the field will be well aware of his presence.

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