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Louis Oosthuizen is rated a 40-1 chance to win the 150th Open Championship on the Old Course at St Andrews this week. Ordinarily, for a man who won there in 2010, and was runner-up in a play-off loss in 2015, that would look like a pretty good wager.
Times have changed for the SA star, however: from being a good bet in any Major over the past five years, his 2022 Major record looks spotty at best. He withdrew with an injury from the Masters, shared 60th in the PGA Championship, and missed the cut in the US Open. And that’s just a year out from 2021 when he came 26th in the Masters, second in the PGA Championship and the US Open and third in the Open.
His missed cut in the US Open was perhaps not too much of a surprise, coming on the heels of the launch of LIV Golf, to which Oosthuizen has moved. Now, he seems comfortable with the bed he’s made for himself there, and largely immune to the controversies and battles that are raging around that breakaway and that will continue to rage for some time.
“For me, it was where I was in my career, it was probably going to be my last year on the PGA Tour,” he has said. “I always said when I get to that stage around 40, I want to do something else and not just golf in my life. I wanted to try something else. I mean, everyone knows I love being on a farm and being outside and doing stuff.
“So I was almost done, and along came this opportunity where … I can do four years of this and have more time spent with my family after this. I can do what I want to do. So I made the decision. It was a decision between me and my wife about what’s best for where I was right now, and I’m going to grab it and play. And yeah, I’m a professional golfer. It’s decent money we’re going to play for, so why not?”
While his playing schedule is cut way back, his share of eighth in the BMW International Open on the DP World Tour at end-June showed enough form to suggest he will be in good shape when he gets his campaign going on Thursday on a course where he looks more relaxed than just about anywhere in the world.
Though the R&A Celebration of Champions is not a reliable indicator, Oosthuizen looked in great shape and very calm as he helped the team of Nick Faldo, Zach Johnson and John Daly to a win in the fun exhibition on Monday. In particular, his birdie on the 18th looked impressive, with a superb chip from a good drive that took him to two feet from the pin. He also birdied the first.
The location, his record at St Andrews and in Majors generally, and his personal golfing values all conspire to make him a realistic option when it comes to picking a winner this week.
“You’ll always have your Major championships and your big events, which is unbelievable,” he has said. “There’s nothing that’s going to take my Open Championship win away from me, and I nearly won the Masters in 2012. Those are the tournaments I grew up and played for.”
It could be one more time this week for the man who is still SA’s top-ranked player.
SA Tour Golf
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.