The Blade Runner, kitted out in his special prosthetics for golf, stood on the 18th tee in his first-ever round of golf on the famous Old Course here ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship beginning on Thursday.
The hole is a par-4, out of bounds on the right and it measures 326 metres off the back markers – although it plays about 20 metres shorter for the amateurs taking part in the separate pro-am this week, and Oscar Pistorius is one of those amateurs.
He reached for his driver, swung like Ernie Els, and hit a booming “pearler” that finished just 10 metres short of the green. A deft chip and two putts followed and he was able to sign for his fourth par of the day. Impressive.
But, he insisted when addressing a roomful of the world’s golf writers on Wednesday, don’t get the wrong idea. “My golf is rubbish, to be honest.
“Fifty per cent of my drives are fantastic, the other 50 percent dismal. I tend to be very aggressive and try and use my strength which isn’t the way to go in golf because the key is to relax and not try and force it.
“I’m pretty competitive out there, although if I sometimes do get a little hot-headed, it’s short-lived. I guess if I had to sum up my golf, it’s a sport where I can unwind from running and if I can make one good drive, one good chip and one good putt every time I play, I’m happy,” said the Paralympian legend whose handicap (in golf, that is!) is 18.
“I’ve been privileged to play some great courses around the world but nothing compares to St Andrews. It’s my first visit here and the place has so much history. When I arrived here a couple of days ago we walked across from the hotel to the driving range and crossing the Road Hole on the way I froze (from all the goosebumps) when I thought about all the great players of the past who had walked where I was walking. I’m very blessed to be here and I hope I can be of some help to my pro this week.”
Oscar, who chooses to walk the course rather than jump on a motorised golf-cart which he is entitled to, is paired with Ireland’s Paul McGinley, one of José Maria Olazabal’s vice-captains in last week’s European heroics in the Ryder Cup. “I’m told he’s a great guy, so I’m looking forward to the week.”
Pistorius says he got into golf when he was 15. “My grandmother asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said a set of golf clubs so we went down to the local pro shop and she set me up.”
And, beyond playing, he has built up a special respect for the “many top players South Africa has produced”, among them Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace who – pro-am aside – will all be trying to win the main event over the next four days here and will all have his support.
More of the writers here attended the Blade Runner press interview on Wednesday than those for Els, defending champion Michael Hoey, and Ryder Cup men Martin Kaymer and Paul Lawrie. That’s how popular our Oscar has become.
He did admit to being nervous ahead of today’s first round, though.
“My hands are already sweating and I hope I don’t have any freshies (misses),” he confessed.
A question came from the floor: “Is this the most nervous you’ve ever been?”
“No, no,” Pistorius replied. “That was in a Dancing With The Stars contest in Italy. I was useless. I'd like to say as a dancer I’ve got two left feet, but the truth is I haven't got any feet at all!”
As you can imagine, our boy practically raised the roof ... – The Star