Louis Oosthuizen in action during the third day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November. Photo: EPA/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Louis Oosthuizen believes a fast start will be crucial at this week’s SA Open at Randpark Golf Club.

With 240 players teeing it up on Thursday – on the Bushwillow and Firethorn courses – the former Open champion says there is no time to waste and getting out the blocks fast in rounds one and two will be crucial.

“This is a tough week with 240 players,” said Oosthuizen, at 36 the highest ranked man in the field, on Wednesday.

“It’s going to come down to how you start. You’re going to need to get out the blocks quickly on Thursday and Friday, because the cut is going to be low.

“You’re going to have to start well and play well ... you’re not going to be able to crusie; you’re going to have to be in it come the weekend. In some events you can find your way through before the weekend and put yourself in a good spot, but with all the players here this week it’s a bit different. You’re going to have to come out and make a lot of birdies.”

At 36, Louis Oosthuizen will be the highest ranked player in the field of 240. Photo: EPA/BackpagePix
At 36, Louis Oosthuizen will be the highest ranked player in the field of 240. Photo: EPA/BackpagePix

The players will all play a round each on the “easier” Bushwillow course and the trickier Firethorn layout before the final two rounds are contested only on the Firethorn course.

On Tuesday Charl Schwartzel shot nine-under-par 62 on the Firethorn course and eight-under-par 63 on Bushwillow so Oosthuizen is correct in believing scoring will be low this week. In last year’s Joburg Open, contested over both of the Randpark courses, players regularly entered scores of 61 and 62 on Bushwillow.

“I’m only going to play Bushwillow today (Wednesday),” said Oosthuizen. “The last time I played it was way back in 2000. But on Firethorn the greens are running nicely, they’re nice and firm and there’s not too much spin, which is nice.

“From what I’ve heard, Bushwillow is softer so you can expect the guys to attack it a lot more.”

Oosthuizen, like so many South African golfers in the field this week, is chasing a first national open title. He is also hoping to add his name to the five-man list of men who’ve won the Open Championship as well as the SA Open title.

“That would be something special, very special,” said Oosthuizen.

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The five men who’ve done the “double” are Bobby Locke, Bob Charles, Gary Player, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson.


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