Saturday, August 04, 2012

Oosthuizen knows vagaries of golf

KRON, Ohio -- When the replays find their way onto the television screen, as is wont to happen given the shot's significance, Louis Oosthuizen scrambles for the remote, scurries out of the room or figures out some other way to block the unavoidable.

The shot, of course, is the remarkable hooking, bending wedge around the trees and onto the 10th green at Augusta National, executed by Bubba Watson to set up his playoff victory in the Masters over Oosthuizen back in April.

It was likely the shot of the year, and will rank among the best of all time at the Masters or in majors -- which makes it only slightly easier for Oosthuizen to deal with all these months later, his chance at a green jacket thwarted by Watson's excellence.

"If it comes on, I'll have a look,'' Oosthuizen said. "But I won't surf the Internet for it.''

Oosthuizen, 29, was smiling when he talked about his disappointment at the Masters, knowing that another good opportunity to win a big tournament awaits Sunday -- weather permitting -- at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

A 2-under-par 68 at Firestone Country Club put Oosthuizen in the final threesome with tournament leader Jim Furyk and reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley. Sunday's tee times have been moved up due to the likelihood of thunderstorms throughout the day.
That makes for a threesome of major championship winners in pursuit of a World Golf Championship trophy on the eve of the year's final major, the PGA.

But Oosthuizen was brought back to the first major, where he hit his own remarkable shot during the final round, making an albatross at the par-5 second hole, one of the rarest feats in golf.

At that point, a green jacket was looking pretty good on Oosthuizen.

"Obviously I was disappointed not getting the win, but you get those tournaments where you're on the bad end of it,'' said Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Championship winner at St. Andrews who trails 2003 U.S. Open champ Furyk by a stroke. "I didn't mind the way I finished second at the Masters. I got outplayed by a brilliant shot in the playoff, and I did really well that last round. I hung in there, so I was very pleased with the way I played.

"The thing is I felt like if I won it, my second shot on the second hole would have been probably the shot of the tournament. But he hit the shot of the tournament by hitting the second on the 10th. ... It was hard. It was a hard few days afterwards, but once the next tournament started off, I was focused on that. It's a great thing that I went to play and didn't sit down and just think about it.''

Not only did Oosthuizen play, he won. And he went a long way to do it, winning the Maybank Malaysian Open for his fifth European Tour title. That followed a third-place finish at the Shell Houston Open and a second at the Masters. He moved to 12th in the world rankings.

But Oosthuizen has struggled since then. He's missed four cuts in his past eight tournaments, his best finishes in that stretch a pair of 19th-place ties at Colonial and at the Open Championship.

Two weeks ago, Oosthuizen had left Royal Lytham and was driving to his home in Manchester, England, listening to the end of the tournament on the radio as fellow South African Ernie Els was the winner, overtaking Adam Scott.
    As a player who came up through Els' foundation in South Africa, Oosthuizen wished he had stayed to watch, but has nonetheless taken some inspiration from a mentor's fourth major title.

"It showed that you never give up, you never know what's going to happen in this game,'' he said. "I didn't really think he was going to win it. I think no one did.''

Few people saw Watson hitting that shot from the trees at Augusta, either.

"I've seen it once, that's enough for me,'' Oosthuizen quipped.


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