Cape Town - South Africa’s golfers are ready to ‘hunt in a pack’ again following last weekend’s US Open at Chambers Bay.
That is the view former professional and local golf expert Dave Usendorff, who watched the tournament diligently over the course of the weekend.
Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel all finished inside the top 10 at the year’s second major, and Grace particularly will be wondering what might have been after a shanked tee shot on the 16th saw him give away two shots and ultimately a chance at securing the win on Sunday.
It has been a lean run for the South Africans at the majors, with Ernie Els’s surprise triumph at the 2012 Open Championship the nation’s last success. That win capped off a successful three years for SA, with Oosthuizen winning the Open in 2010 and Schwartzel the Masters in 2011. But since Els’s win at Royal Lytham and St Annes there has been little to celebrate.
But Usendorff is optimistic.
"We’ve all been a bit disillusioned by the performances of the South Africans. They’re such talented players. I think what’s important for me is that these guys are looking like they’re going to start hunting in a pack again," Usendorff told Sport24 on Thursday.
"And if they do that then I think it will be great for us over the next couple of months.
"Louis’s confidence is up and it looks like he’s injury-free so he’s going to inspire the other guys. Schwartzel looks like he’s enjoying golf again for the first time in a long time."
Usendorff added that Grace possessed the ability to build on his showing at the US Open and take his game to the next level.
“I think Branden is going to be the catalyst. He works hard on his game, he’s settled in his life after getting engaged and he’s a bulldog,” said Usendorff.
"He has aspirations of moving into the top 10 in the world which he could comfortably do."
Usendorff also made mention of George Coetzee, calling him “one of the most naturally gifted golfers in the world”, and Trevor Fisher Jnr as other local golfers who could challenge at the top.
The Sunshine Tour remains the breeding ground.
"The Sunshine Tour over the last two years has become a dominant tour worldwide and we have seen some great players coming up," said Usendorff.
"What is important is that this mustn’t be a one-hit wonder. But going into the British Open with Oosthuizen obviously the venue defending champion, along with Grace who clearly likes this kind of golf course, I think it’s going to be good for us."
The Open Championship starts at St Andrews on July 16.