PGA Championship

No more Whistling Straits nerves for Louis

2015-08-11 11:01
Louis Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)

Whistling Straits - Still feeling emotionally bruised after losing out in a three-way playoff for last month's British Open, South African Louis Oosthuizen relishes the prospect of another links-style challenge at this week's PGA Championship.

The last time the year's final major was staged at Whistling Straits, in 2010, Oosthuizen arrived at the venue fresh from a commanding seven-stroke victory at the British Open but he went on to miss the cut after two "very nervous" opening rounds.

Five years later, he is certainly a much changed and more experienced player and will be targeting a second major victory after posting runner-up finishes in his last two Grand Slam title bids - at the US Open and British Open.

"I don't really remember the golf course at all but I do remember back in 2010 that I was very nervous," Oosthuizen told Reuters while preparing for Thursday's opening round at Whistling Straits.

"I played with G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) and Phil (Mickelson) the first two rounds, and it was my first major after winning a major so I know I was really, really nervous.

"But this time will be a little more different. I won't be that nervous. It's a links-style golf course so I am really looking forward to it."

Oosthuizen, 32, will certainly be one of the players to watch this week at Whistling Straits, and not only for a swing regarded as among the sweetest in the game.

He has produced sparkling form on the 2014/15 PGA Tour with six top-10s in 15 starts, including that painful playoff loss at the British Open and a tie for second at the US Open where he covered the final nine holes in a scintillating six-under 29.

"Any playoff defeat is disappointing and at St Andrews especially, it's a place where I always feel like I am going to do well. I played nicely the whole week," said Oosthuizen.

"It would have been great to defend at the same course where I'd won before. Not many people have done that so I was really motivated to get a win that week.

"But no regrets over how I played that week. I played well. Zach just played a bit better," said the South African, who lost out in a three-way battle for the title between eventual champion Zach Johnson and Australian Marc Leishman.

That playoff loss was Oostuizen's second in a major, as he was edged out by Bubba Watson in sudden death for the 2012 Masters after the American left-hander had pulled off a wonder shot from pine straw on the second extra hole.

"I felt more disappointed at Augusta than I did this year at St Andrews," said the South African. "At Augusta, I felt like I really played such good golf.

"If I hadn't lost in a major playoff before, I probably would have been a lot more disappointed at the (British) Open but I've won a Claret Jug before and I really wanted at Augusta National the (green) jacket."

A major plus for Oosthuizen as he prepares for this week's PGA Championship is the fact that, for now, he has put behind him the health concerns he had two years ago when he was troubled by a recurring neck-related injury and hip problems.

"It's good," he smiled. "It feels great to go to a tournament and not be thinking about whether or not you can play. You can focus a bit more on practising and working on a few things. I just need to keep my body where it is now."


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Which of the eight South Africans competing at this week's 101st PGA Championship will fare best?

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