Monday, July 19, 2010

Louis Oosthuizen ... Unlikely Open Champion

The Open Championship, or the British Open, annually produces odd and unlikely circumstances and results. Twenty-one year old phenom Rory McIlroy shot a major tournament record tying 63 in the opening round only to balloon to an 80 in Friday's wind driven second round. That second round alone saw delay of play for 66 minutes due to wind gusts in excess of 40 miles-per-hour and the winds were consistently 20 to 30 mph throughout The Open wreaking havoc for all players … except for a wee 27 year-old South African whom not many people outside of the European Tour had known.

Meet Louis Oosthuizen --- Champion Player of the Year

Oosthuizen, a product of fellow South African and former Open champion Ernie Els's golf foundation, entered The Open Championship as the world's 54th ranked player, winning his first European Tour tournament this spring in Spain. He is known to European players as a straight hitter who hits the golf ball a long way for a player diminutive in stature.

But to dominate a star-studded field that included the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, and others? Oosthuizen had no history to suggest anything of the sort. He had missed cuts regularly in past majors struggling on the world's grandest stages including Augusta National and most recently Pebble Beach.

What Louis managed to accomplish better than all other competitors was to find fairways and greens consistently. As wide as the fairways are at The Old Course in St. Andrews, many players were out of position, especially on holes 12 and 17, the famous (or infamous) Road Hole. Just ask Mickelson and Casey about the 12th hole.

I believe that Oosthuizen won The Open on that wind driven second round in which he fashioned a bogey free round of 67, five-under par while the majority of the field struggled mightily. From there, Louis never looked back.

From watching Oosthuizen, he never seemed to get rattled or disillusioned by what few bad shots he hit. Steady and strong was Louis while all others showed angst and frustration. And his swing was so fluid, due to his great balance while playing in the wind. Boring as it may have been, watching young Louis Oosthuizen play golf was a joy unto itself.

Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson, in a column for USA Today, asked Oosthuizen about his first night with the claret jug which Louis replied, "I put it next to my bed last night, and I woke up this morning and I looked at it, and I immediately grabbed the phone and texted Chubby Chandler, my agent, saying, 'I've got this funny old jug next to my bed.'”

“Man, oh, man. That was special waking up next to it.”

All this while the 139th playing of The Open Championship ended just a day ago and marked 150 years of major championship play in golf.

While the golf world hails Louis Oosthuizen as the Champion Player of the Year, I have one burning question...

What will be put into and poured out of the claret jug?


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  1. Americans are really slipping. As a casual golf fan, its harder to stay interested when my own countrymen cannot crack the upper-echelon of golfers (besides Tiger). I know Americans are ranked highly, but they have not produced lately

  2. Dylan,

    This shows that golf has taken on a whole new breed...a worldwide breed. In years past you get the Europeans to play well, but now the entire world is in the act, especially your Asian golfers.

  3. I'm almost happy the rest of the world is getting stronger. It's not as fun when the U.S. is the best at everything. We need a new underdog that's not soccer.