It’s been a frustrating year for Louis Oosthuizen as he’s struggled to work around a recurring back injury.
Its affect on his game was nowhere more evident than at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
Oosthuizen’s back flared up again when he arrived in Scotland. It meant he had to cut his practice round short, and by Friday afternoon he was in pain and considering withdrawing from the tournament. He spent some good time with his trainer and was pain free on Saturday morning. And he shot 62 on the Old Course to surge up the leaderboard and challenge for the title on Sunday.
Oosthuizen started the year in impressive fashion when he successfully defended his Volvo Golf Champions title at Durban Country Club, becoming the first player in the history of the tournament to do so.
It marked the fourth year in succession that Oosthuizen had won his first tournament of the year.
He went on to finish tied fifth in the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, and also had top finishes of tied second in the Maybank Malaysian Open and tied 11th in the Byron Nelson Championship. His best finish in the Majors was tied 15th in the PGA Championship.
When he is not struggling his back injury, Oosthuizen’s potential seems almost limitless.
He showed it at Mossel Bay Golf Club in 2002 when he shot 57 in a game with some friends.
His dominance of the 2010 Open Championship in St Andrews was another example of how when his game is on, Oosthuizen is unstoppable. He’d missed the cut in the previous three Open Championships he’d played in before he won in such spectacular fashion, beating Lee Westwood by seven strokes.
Oosthuizen followed a similar pattern in the Masters. He’d also missed the cut in his first three Masters before finishing second in 2012 when he lost in a playoff with Bubba Watson.
A Major, 12 professional victories, a Presidents Cup debut in 2013 and a career high ranking of fourth in the world are the highlights of his career thus far, but there’s no doubt amongst the biggest names in the game that he has potential for much more. When Thomas Björn played with Oosthuizen in the 2014 Volvo Golf Champions, he said he could do nothing but enjoy the experience of spending 18 holes watching one of the most beautiful swings in golf.
It’s this talent that was spotted early in his career and saw him drafted into the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.
He won his first tournament on the Sunshine Tour, but the most memorable of his South African victories was the 2008 Telkom PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg. Oosthuizen won by 14 shots with a score of 28-under-par 260, including rounds of 66, 63, 66 and 65. It was the biggest 72-hole winning margin in the history of the Sunshine Tour. Oosthuizen also came close to matching the biggest victory in relation to par in the history of the Sunshine Tour, which was Mark McNulty's 29-under 259 in the Royal Swazi Sun Pro-Am at the Royal Swazi Sun Country Club in 1987.
“Those were probably the four best rounds of my career,” he said later.
But despite the considerable highs he has reached, Oosthuizen remains a man very much rooted in traditional values.
He is a strong supporter of South African junior golf through his own academy as well as through sponsorship of a tournament on the Glacier Junior Series.
And he loves nothing more than to return home and spend some time on his farm near Mossel Bay, and riding the John Deere tractor he bought with his Open winnings.