’I'm playing good golf, but it's not winning a major’, says Louis Oosthuizen after falling short at US Open
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JOHANNESBURG - Seven-time major champion Louis Oosthuizen has a good ring to it, but instead the 38-year-old South African is a six-time runner up in the big four events and that will undoubtedly hurt.
Oosthuizen’s latest heartbreak came at the US Open on Sunday, finishing a shot behind Spain’s Jon Rahm who triumphed on six-under.
A poor tee shot which found the left hazard on the par four 71st hole proved the difference for the 2010 Open champion Oosthuizen. Anywhere right of the hazard and Oosthuizen, five-under with two holes left, and he would have been looking at a decent birdie chance with just a wedge in for his approach. Even from the drop he had to take playing his third, Oosthuizen’s approach was nestled close to the hole and he lipped out for par.
Though he birdied the final hole, it would prove ultimately meaningless for Oosthuizen, much like his R19.4m cheque for finishing second which he would have still achieved had he ended four-under.
A move up six places to 12th in the world rankings is also his highest position since April 2016, but that too will provide scant consolation for Oosthuizen. Instead, he will continue to have to find a way to field questions surrounding his failure to win more majors, after his breakthrough win 11 years ago.
Ernie Els - SA’s four-time major champion who himself would have felt he had a few more majors in his bag - is known for saying “people only remember your wins”. For Oosthuizen, however, this might not be completely true as he is saddled with the tag of perennial major contender rather than multiple victor.
Last month, Oosthuizen finished second behind American Phil Mickelson who triumphed at the PGA Championship in the year’s second major. Last year at the US Open, Oosthuizen also finished third. The man from Mossel Bay simply keeps banging on the door, but that door it seems is made of stainless steel.
It may be harsh judgement to lay the blame purely on Oosthuizen for coming up short, especially as Rahm holed two incredible putts on his final two holes to grab the victory. But that doesn’t change how Oosthuizen feels, knowing he had one hand on the trophy.
“Right now I didn't win it. I'm second again. No, look, it's frustrating,” said Oosthuizen.
“It's disappointing. I'm playing good golf, but it's not - winning a major championship is not just going to happen. You need to go out and play good golf. I played good today, but I didn't play good enough.”
“I feel like I had my shots, I went for it, and that's what you have to do to win majors. Sometimes it goes your way, and other times it doesn’t.”
When Oosthuizen holed a 52-foot putt for eagle at the last to join the lead at the end of the third round, he said he grew in experience every time he teed it up in a major. By now, Oosthuizen has played in 50 majors and that surely has to mean he expects to win again soon.
“Every major I learn something more about my game, and what to do under the pressure.”
Another burden Oosthuizen carries is trying to break the major drought of SA players which stands at nine years. In fact, Els was the last major winner for SA with his victory at the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Another factor, perhaps, in Oosthuizen’s struggles to win another major may lie in the fact that his 2010 Open championship triumph counts as his only PGA Tour victory, and means he has never won on US soil.
As a nine-time European Tour winner, Oosthuizen is far more comfortable ‘over the pond’ it would seem.
With The Open Championship now less than a month away at Royal St George’s in Kent, England, it may just be the tournament where it all began for Oosthuizen which could see him win a major again, which could trigger a flood of victories. For South African golf fans, one can only hope.
African News Agency (ANA)