Oosthuizen leads SA charge
Louis Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - While he relinquished a final-round two-shot lead in the Houston Open at the weekend, Louis Oosthuizen has had the perfect preparation ahead of the Masters at Augusta starting on Thursday.
Winning the week before a Major and going on to don the green jacket is a rare feat, let alone winning two weeks in a row on the PGA Tour.
The mental strain of attempting the unique achievement would have made it near impossible for the 2010 Open champion, and he was positive of his chances heading to Augusta.
“I had a few horrific lies and bounces. It happens. Another day it goes my way," Oosthuizen told the Sunshine Tour website after finishing third in Houston.
"I’m very positive in going to Augusta."
Three-time Masters champion Gary Player said earlier in the week he fancied Oosthuizen to challenge in the first Major of the year, along with defending champion Charl Schwartzel.
Schwartzel finished with four birdies in a row to win by two strokes in 2011, and he will hope to rekindle the form that had him slip on the green jacket.
Fresh off two missed cuts in his previous two starts, Schwartzel was glad to have the spotlight off him, and he hoped to spring a surprise. “In a way, you feel you’re being overlooked and you can work under the radar,” he told the Sunshine Tour website.
"All the other guys, the media apply a lot of pressure on them, and you can go about your business the way you normally would and catch them off guard.”
The other South Africans in the field include Tim Clark, who by his own admission is not fully fit, with chronic tendinitis in his elbow, and he will have his work cut out if he is to make the weekend.
Trevor Immelman, who won the green jacket in 2008, has also had injury concerns, but he has been in good form ahead of the event after an 11th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago.
Rounding out the South African aspirations is Rory Sabbatini, but he has had an average season on the PGA Tour to date.
Tee times for South African players in the first round:
Group 1, 13:50: Craig Stadler, Brendan Steele, Tim Clark (SA)
Group 10, 15:29: Trevor Immelman (SA), Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
Group 14, 16:24: Charl Schwartzel (SA), Keegan Bradley, Kelly Kraft
Group 21, 17:41: Louis Oosthuizen (SA), Mark Wilson, Graeme McDowell
Group 28, 19:09: Thomas Bjorn, Scott Stallings, Rory Sabbatini (SA)