Louis Oosthuizen, our golden boy

By admin
23 July 2010

n the two days since Louis Oosthuizen became South Africa’s latest golfing hero the phone on the farm Melkhoutfontein near Gouritzmond in the Southern Cape hasn’t stopped ringing.

The 27-year-old recently became the fourth South African to win the prestigious British Open. This puts him in the exclusive company of golfing legends Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els, the only South Africans to have won the tournament.

They’re not used to all this attention, dad Piet and mom Minnie say. Their son’s achievement is truly remarkable – he was a complete outsider, ranked 54th in the world, when he teed off in the 139th British Open at St Andrews in Scotland. Four days later he held the trophy in his hands.

It’s here, in the fresh country air near the Gouritz River, that he practised his putting. There was a time when Louis and his older brother, Rikus, had to share two golf balls and two tennis balls. “But right from the start I could see my brother could use a knobkerrie and still make a golf ball fly,” Rikus says. “I knew he was good; he was talented.”

He introduced Louis to golf when they were at school. In the Southwestern Districts league he was No 1 and Louis was No 2. “That’s when Louis was in Grade 8. When I went off to study agriculture he became the top guy. I never caught up with him again!”

Minnie fetches her cellphone and shows us a picture of six-month-old Jana, Louis and wife Nel-Mare’s daughter. “They accompany Louis wherever he goes. It’s good for him and his game not to be separated from his family.”

“Louis was always focused on golf. When he was in Grade 9 I asked him what subjects he was going to do because we thought he should also prepare himself for a future that didn’t involve golf. He said, ‘Dad, there’s no Plan B. There’s only golf.’

“At that stage I didn’t know enough about golf to realise just how good he was.”

The British Open represented the ninth time he’d competed in one of the Majors, the world’s four most prestigious golf tournaments – and only the second time he’d qualified for the final two days of the event. The previous occasion was the 2008 US PGA – and he came last.

At the Mossel Bay Golf Club, where Louis is an honorary member excitement is running just as high as on the farm. At the clubhouse balloons and a giant poster are already waiting to welcome Louis when he has a chance to pop in. “Many, many congratulations, Louis,” it says.

And on that day everyone will gather around the braai. After all, he’s a local boy.

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