Sweet dreams flow from the Claret Jug for Louis Oosthuizen
WHEN you've won the Open Championship at St Andrews as a 200-1 outsider who'd missed the cut in three previous appearances in the event, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a dream.
Louis Oosthuizen probably didn't want to open his eyes yesterday morning just in case, but the moment he did he knew it had been for real.
"I put it (the Claret Jug] next to my bed last night and I woke up this morning and looked at it," said the South African after staying on at the home of golf on Sunday to celebrate his stunning success. "Yeah, that was good 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, it was good."
So, too, was seeing Jana, his seven-month-old daughter, thinking the most famous trophy golf was her latest new toy. "She was between me and my wife this morning and I put the Jug next to her and took a few pictures," added Oosthuizen, who upset his dad as a teenager when he chose golf over tennis but can laugh about it these days due to the fact his father no longer plays tennis himself after being converted to the royal & ancient game. "She just grabbed it and put it straight to her mouth - she loves it."
On Sunday night, as the Jigger Inn beside the Old Course Hotel hosted a double celebration on Nelson Mandela Day for Oosthuizen and his fellow South Africans, the new Open champion preferred having the Claret Jug in his hands - he also wore the replica Open Championship Belt that came with the trophy and a first prize of 850,000 - than anything else and certainly wasn't going be drinking any sort of tipple from it.
"There were no liquids in this - to me it's too special," said the 27-year-old, casting an admiring glance at the trophy sitting in front of him back in the Media Centre at the Old Course yesterday.
"I just looked at it and held it in my arms all night. The Jigger was packed. We had the whole Sunshine Tour in there and Mr (Johan] Rupert came in especially. It was a picture here, a picture there, talking to this person, talking to that person."
Before going to bed at 3am, he also spoke on the phone to Ernie Els, the man who saw huge potential in Oosthuizen as he supported him as youngster and, within minutes of his compatriot holing the winning putt on Sunday, was expressing his pride, not only because Oosthuizen had become the first member of his Foundation to lift a major but also because the 2002 champion reckons he's "a wonderful kid". Recalling their conversation, Oosthuizen admitted: "It was nice hearing from him. I could actually picture him speaking to me. He was probably on the couch [Els had missed the cut at St Andrews] and was back home in Florida) in his shorts and relaxing. It was good of him."
As a three-time major champion, Els is likely to be consulted in depth by Oosthuizen, who revealed his St Andrews success had been the first time he'd used a red dot on his glove to trigger a psychological ploy to keep him in the present and play his shot, as he tries to adjust to his new-found fame.
In the meantime, though, it's business as usual. He's off to Sweden tomorrow for this week's Scandinavian Masters - that will be followed by a flying visit home, to Mossel Bay near George in the Southern Cape, to "say hi to everyone" - and certainly won't be turning his back on the European Tour [he'll be back at St Andrews, as well as Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, for the Dunhill Links Championship in October].
Like Els, Oosthuizen was a winner early on his career in South Africa but also felt he needed the stronger competition on the European circuit to become a better player. The breakthrough eventually came at the Andalucian Open at Malaga in March and the confidence he gained there played its part in seeing Oosthuizen take his quantum leap on Sunday.
"Playing in South Africa you are comfortable on the courses and it's not as tough as it is in Europe," he noted. "I had won [four times] in South Africa but wanted to win in Europe as I saw that as a big step up. The win in Malaga gave me confidence and self-belief. Even though it was in the Open Championship, I had the mindset that I could win a tournament in Europe."
According to Oosthuizen, life as a European Tour member has also helped toughen up the player who almost took fright the first time he played in Scotland due, ironically enough, the weather. That was eight years ago, when he finished in a tie for 20th behind West Linton's Simon Mackenzie in the Links Trophy, the 72-hole amateur event held annually at St Andrews.
"I didn't play well. I struggled. It was raining again and it was cold - not South African weather. I think the toughest thing was probably the cold. I think the seven years on the European Tour got me tougher after that. You get used to it. I'm a bit wiser now. I've got hand-warmers in my golf bag now, so I just put them in my pcokets if it's really cold."
As was with the case with Graeme McDowell after his win in the US Open at Pebble Beach, Oosthuizen doesn't have long to get his feet back on the ground before the next major. In his case, it's the USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits in just four weeks' time and Oosthuizen is determined to build on his St Andrews success to become a multiple major winner like Els, as well as Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Retief Goosen. "I want a few more of these," he stressed.
"I think winning one just wants you to get to the second one and then get to the third one. I'm probably going to work even harder now and chalk up as many majors as I can."
words to go in herety
Words to go in
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east