Charl, Louis eager for Cup win
Haikou - They were not even born when Gary Player and Harold Henning won the World Cup of golf in 1965, but Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have a good chance of making it a sixth triumph for South Africa.
The Omega Mission Hills World Cup gets underway on Thursday at the spectacular Mission Hills resort on Hainan Island, China, with 28 nations competing in the 56th staging of the event.
Bobby Cole and Dale Hayes won in 1974, and then it took 22 more years before Ernie Els and Wayne Westner did it again for South Africa in 1996. Els took it again, this time with Goosen in 2001 and then Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman won in 2003.
And Schwartzel missed a golden opportunity to pick Els’s and Goosen’s brains on how to go about winning last week: “We were more involved in last week’s Presidents Cup than thinking about this,” said Schwartzel.
“I know Ernie and Retief won it in Japan. I should have actually asked them, thinking about it now, how they did that,” he added.
But the pair brings some serious credentials of their own to the event, with a major championship each in the bag, and recent form as well, after quiet periods for both.
More importantly, they have bonded closer over the last few years than even their childhood friendship would have suggested would happen, and they bring that closeness to an event where Francesco and Edoardo Molinari showed last year in winning it for Italy that closeness helps.
“The two of us since junior golf wanted to play in this and probably imagined playing it together, because we played in so many amateur and junior team events,” said Oosthuizen.
“Since then we have played for South Africa together, we have represented them in junior golf and amateur golf,” added Schwartzel. “We have won the Junior World Championships in Japan together with two other friends of ours.”
And, unlike in the Presidents Cup, where players from different countries have to get used to playing with each other, these two are almost joined at the hip. “We play almost every single week, we play a practice round together,” said Schwartzel. “So I know how far he hits the ball. I know what he likes, what he doesn’t like. You know, and I think that’s part of a big deal - it’s a big advantage.”
And, besides the closeness, they have honed their games to levels unimagined in their youth, as Oosthuizen’s Open championship in 2010 and Schwartzel’s Masters title this year attest.
And, as South Africans are, they are immensely proud at the opportunity to represent their country on the sportsfield: “It’s definitely an honour representing South Africa at this tournament,” said Oosthuizen. “I think it makes it a bit more special playing with Charl.”
And as they get ready to take on the world, they have a sense of destiny about the tournament.
“We’re the guys - we’re all out to try and win for the first time in a couple of years. Louis and I will try and do our own little part of history here,” said Schwartzel.