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Louis, Charl back at Randpark where it all began for them
Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, both at Randpark for the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg beginning Thursday, wore broad smiles at the club during yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) pro-am.
They were chuckling, and reminiscing, because it was right here at Randpark where they first met as nippers back in 1996 when their respective fathers, Piet Oosthuizen and George Schwartzel, had entered them for the first time in the SA Boys Championship. Louis was 14 and Charl 12.
Louis’s dad had driven him all the way up from their farm in Albertina in the Southern Cape – their car broke down during their adventure to the bright lights of Joburg – to be at the tournament, and ready for his 9am tee-time on day one.
“My dad was worried about the big city traffic so he got us to the club way too early, well before seven,” Louis now recalls. “Charl was off at 7 o’clock at the par-4 10th but then one of the guys in his group didn’t turn up so, as I had already arrived at the club, I was told I should join Charl’s group.”
George Schwartzel takes up the story. “I was with Charl at the 10th where he was waiting to hit when we heard the loudspeaker: ‘Mr Oosthuizen, please report to the 10th tee’. Then I saw this little guy running down from the clubhouse, waving his arms wildly and shouting ‘Hier is ek!, Hier is ek!’.”
So that’s how a great friendship and a great golfing journey between the two players – that has seen them both win Majors as well as tournaments in South Africa and around the world – began right here at Randpark 22 years ago.
“I remember I got a bit cross that day and Charl told me I had a very bad attitude,” Louis remember with a laugh.
In those days anyone 18 and under could enter the SA Boys, provided they met the necessary handicap requirements, but everyone played off the men’s tees – so the course seemed exceptionally long for the little guys like Louis and Charl.
“I only just made it over the river (about 150 metres distance) at the 10th with my opening drive that day,” Charl now says with another chuckle.
“Charl was really small as a 14-year-old and he wasn’t able to reach any of the par-4s in two, or the par-3s in one, yet he broke 90 in every round,” a proud George recalls.
Young boy competitors all those years ago, and now Oosthuizen and Schwartzel are back at Randpark together again as strong contenders for the South African Open title.
Perhaps, come late Sunday afternoon, once the winner is announced and the trophy is about to be handed over – it’ll be either Louis or Charl running up to the podium, arms waving wildly, and exclaiming ‘Hier is ek!, Hier is ek!’.
By Grant Winter