Slim pickings for Mzansi as Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel carry SA hopes at The Masters

SA professional golfer Louis Oosthuizen on his follow-through

Louis Oosthuizen will be hoping to turn back the clock and produce one of his stellar major performances at The Masters which tees off at Augusta on Thursday. Picture: Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA

Published Apr 4, 2023


Centurion - Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are used to leading the SA charge at major golf events, but being the only hope for the Rainbow Nation will be a new feeling when The Masters tees off at Augusta on Thursday.

South Africans will indeed be a rarity on the fairways, or the rough, at the first major of the year as they number just three in total. Amateur Aldrich Potgieter completes the SA triumvirate, and making his first trip around Augusta, the 18-year-old rising star can be forgiven if he simply soaks up the experience.

Potgieter may feel otherwise though, after he won the 2022 Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, especially if he can find out a few tips from his veteran compatriots before the tournament starts.

Now aged 40, Oosthuizen’s time at the majors may be running out to bag that second title, after his stunning triumph at The Open Championship at St Andrews in 2010. His world golf ranking is also in free fall with his commitment to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series. LIV Golf currently does not offer world ranking points which has massive implications for its players.

The former world No 4 Oosthuizen only snuck inside the top-50 in the rankings with a top-10 finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa in December. That ensured he was ranked exactly 50th at the end of the calendar year, which booked his spot for The Masters. Now ranked 120th in the world, it certainly would be timely for Oosthuizen to produce a top performance.

‘King Louis’ also has runner-up finishes at every major which includes his play-off defeat at the hands of American Bubba Watson at The Masters in 2012. Given his age and decision to play LIV Golf, Oosthuizen’s future at the majors is unclear and he will need to make the most of whatever chances he may have this week.

As for Schwartzel, at 38 he has a bit more time left at the top potentially. However, he too has made the switch to LIV Golf and now sees himself now ranked 214th in the world. The 2011 Masters champion has a lifetime exemption in the year’s first major courtesy of his win all those years ago, and fuelled by nostalgia he will hope to be around for the weekend.

Ultimately for SA golf fans, it will be slim pickings this week but there will not be a better dark horse bet than Oosthuizen. Realistically, though, the stars will have to align quite perfectly if the Masters is to see any hint of a South African flag on Sunday.


IOL Sport