Win­ner hugs jug, con­sid­ers his fu­ture

Oosthuizen’s be­lief in him­self on rise

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — Louis Oosthuizen never let the sil­ver claret jug out of his sight as he cel­e­brated into the morn­ing hours at the Jig­ger Inn across from the 17th fair­way at St. An­drews.

If his seven-shot vic­tory in the Bri­tish Open felt like a dream, re­al­ity ar­rived when he awoke Mon­day.

“I put it next to my bed last night, and I woke up this morn­ing and I looked at it, and I im­me­di­ately grabbed the phone and text Chubby Chan­dler, my agent, say­ing, ‘I’ve got this funny old jug next to my bed.’

“Man, oh, man,” he said. “That was spe­cial wak­ing up next to it.”

Equally spe­cial was his vic­tory at the home of golf, a per­for­mance so pure that he never trailed over the fi­nal 48 holes and hit into only one bunker on the Old Course — on the 14th hole Sun­day, when the cham­pi­onship had al­ready been de­cided.

Oosthuizen be­came the fifth player in the last six Grand Slam events to win his first ma­jor, and the ques­tion sure to fol­low is whether he is ca­pa­ble of win­ning more or if he hap­pened to play his best golf dur­ing an im­por­tant week.

The mar­gin of vic­tory is what makes this stand out.

Un­til his con­ser­va­tive play on the 17th to make bo­gey, Oosthuizen was poised to tie the Open record over 72 holes with an eight-shot vic­tory, last achieved by Tiger Woods a decade ago.

Seven shots is no less im-

Con­tin­ued from C pres­sive. In the 150 years of ma­jor cham­pi­onships, only 14 play­ers have won by seven shots or more (Woods has done it three times, Jack Nick­laus twice). Of those playe r s , onl y two — Fred Herd in the 1 8 9 8 U. S. Open and Wil­lie Smith in the 1899 U.S. Open — never won an­other ma­jor.

Where does Oosthuizen fit in?

“I think based on the mar­gin of vic­tory, his de­meanor on the golf course, the qual­ity of his game and steady progress that he’s been mak­ing in the world rank­ings and in tour events, I think very much mark him as a player on the rise,” Royal & An­cient chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Daw­son said Mon­day. “Ev­ery great Open cham­pion has to win for the first time. And I for one would not be sur­prised to see him win again.”

That’s the plan for the 27year-old South African.

In this age of play­ers turn­ing pro ear­lier and win­ning tour events im­me­di­ately, from Ryo Ishikawa to Rory McIlroy to An­thony Kim, Oosthuizen might be a late bloomer.

Ernie Els no­ticed his skill im­me­di­ately when he in­vited Oosthuizen to be part of his foun­da­tion, which helps promis­ing ju­niors who need fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Yet the self-be­lief was lack­ing un­til Oosthuizen won the An­dalu­cia Open in Spain ear­lier this year, his first Euro­pean Tour vic­tory. And while he wouldn’t have pre­dicted a vic­tory in the Bri­tish Open, he knew he was ca­pa­ble.

The key to his vic­tory came in the sec­ond round. Oosthuizen be­gan in the wind and rain, and he has never liked play­ing in wet weather. He man­aged to get through the rough part with­out drop­ping a shot, and wound up with a 67 just as the wind turned fierce.

He fig­ures the seven years he spent on the Euro­pean Tour tough­ened him up, and win­ning in Spain for his first Euro­pean Tour ti­tle did noth­ing but boost his con­fi­dence.

“I want a few more of these,” he said, his eyes rarely wan­der­ing from the jug. “Yeah, I’m go­ing to work a bit harder prob­a­bly from now on and just try and get up there with as many ma­jors as I can.”

Bri­tish Open cham­pi­ons keep the claret jug for a year, and usu­ally re­turn with sto­ries of what all was poured out of it.

Ste­wart Cink started with Guin­ness, and the rest of the liq­uid ranged from soda to wine to bar­be­cue sauce.

For now, the jug is as clean as when Cink re­turned it.

“There was noth­ing in this,” Oosthuizen said. “To me, it’s too spe­cial. I just looked at it and held it in my arms all night.”

Louis Oosthuizen won the Bri­tish Open by 7 strokes.

Louis Oosthuizen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.