Golf

SA golfer eyes Firestone boost

2011-08-04 08:36
Louis Oosthuizen (Gallo)

Ohio - Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is looking for a spark to reignite his game at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after escaping injury in a traffic accident while preparing for the tournament.

The 28-year-old South African suffered whiplash when a car driven by his caddie was struck by another vehicle at an intersection close to their hotel as they were travelling to Firestone Country Club on Tuesday.

Oosthuizen was taken to hospital as a precaution and he returned to the course on Wednesday to play 18 holes in practice.

"It was a pretty scary experience," the world number said after his practice round. "It just happened out of the blue. My neck was sore on Wednesday but I've had treatment on it and I should be okay."

Oosthuizen, who tied for ninth in his debut at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last year, is banking on a much-needed return to form in the welcome, tree-lined surrounds of Firestone.

"I really enjoyed it when I played here last year," he said. "It's a good, fair track but you've got to hit it straight here. Hopefully I can get it going here again."

Oosthuizen, who clinched his first major title with a crushing seven-shot victory in last year's British Open at St. Andrews, has struggled for consistency this season.

Although he won his second European Tour title at the Africa Open in January, he has posted only one top 10 in 11 starts on the 2011 PGA Tour - a tie for ninth at the US Open in June.

"My form at the moment is pretty rough," he said. "I struggled in Canada with a little back injury so we will just have to see how this week goes."

Oosthuizen missed the cut at last week's Canadian Open following rounds of 75 and 74.

"I feel like I am playing nicely -- it's just a question of putting everything together," the South African said. "But I am struggling with that at the moment."

Asked what he felt was the main difference in his game from a year ago, Oosthuizen replied: "I don't know. The British Open, with that type of golf course and the type of golf you play there, I really enjoy.

"You have a lot of shot-making and things like that. Royal St. George's as well, I really love playing there," he added, referring to last month's British Open venue where he tied for 54th.

"But I just struggled in that weather with the rain and everything, especially on the Saturday. Whenever it's really windy I seem to find my swing a lot better than I do when it's really good conditions.

"My problem at the moment is probably more mental than anything else -- it doesn't make sense," he said before breaking into laughter.

Oosthuizen is scheduled to tee off with Australia's Aaron Baddeley in Thursday's opening round at Firestone.

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