After a hugely successful 2012 season Louis Oosthuizen confessed on Wednesday that he has finally reached a stage where at least he can dream about one day being ranked the top golfer in the world.

“I like to set myself realistic goals and a year ago any notion of being No1 just wasn’t on,” he said on the eve of the Alfred Dunhill Championship which began at Leopard Creek on Thursday.

The point is that 12 months ago the little guy with the big golf game was ranked 40th in the world.

Today he is No 5, with only world No1 Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose ahead of him, in that order.

“So yes, now I can dream because there’s a possibility. Having said that, Rory McIlroy is so far ahead of anyone else right now that it’s going to take something special to catch him.

“And it doesn’t look he’s about to slow down. I wouldn’t be surprised if he adds to his tally of Majors and wins another two or three in the next couple of years.”

Oosthuizen, winner of the Africa and Malaysia Opens this year, and so very nearly the Masters and the Singapore (losing both in a play-off), reckons it will take sustained top golf from him and poor play from McIlroy for him to have any chance of getting to No1.

“Not that I’m being negative, but it’s just going to be really difficult.

“Then again, given time… maybe. You never know. Right now let’s just say number two sounds good for next year,” added the 30-year-old from Mossel Bay.

After competing in the Nedbank Golf Challenge two weeks ago, Oosthuizen didn’t feel well so he pulled out of the Thailand Golf Championship, but watched it on television instead as his good friend and compatriot Charl Schwartzel won by 11 shots – the biggest winning margin on any of the major tours this year – with a stunning 25-under-par 263 aggregate.

“The way Charl played last week – how good was that!” Oosthuizen exclaimed.

“I felt so pleased for him because he’s had such a tough time with his injury this year.

“Having said that, we may be great friends off the course but on the course when he plays well, I want to play better, and vice-versa. Now he’s come back here to Leopard Creek which is his favourite course (where in his last eight Alfred Dunhill Championship starts he’s won once and finished runner-up four times).”

It’s obvious, Oosthuizen reckons, his buddy Charl is the man to beat this week.

Schwartzel admits that “the golf course does suit my eye, and I like what I see. I love being out in the bush, and you don’t get more bush than this.

“It’s such a relaxing atmosphere, and on top of that the course is in great shape. All of those things go my way.

“Last week was just one of those weeks. I hit so many good shots and gave myself so many chances. And when I did hit the odd bad shot I managed to make some good saves. Those are the key, they’re probably bigger than the birdies. They keep the momentum going.”

It could be a two-man show this week – Charl versus Louis. But then again, golf is too unpredictable to make predictions. Defending champion is Garth Mulroy and among the many European Tour regulars in the line-up (this being a co-sanctioned event) is Scotland’s Scott Jamieson who won last week’s inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship at Royal Durban.

This week’s purse of e1,5-million is a record for the Sunshine Tour, and first place is worth a hefty R2,658-million. – The Star