THE golf careers of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have almost mirrored each other’s ever since they first met in junior competition in 1996 aged 14 and 12 respectively. Louis would win a tournament and Charl would follow suit, and vice-versa.
This trend continued at amateur level and also once they joined the paid ranks as young professionals. Then, when Louis won the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews to record Major success it was almost as if Charl thought: If he can do it so can I. And he promptly captured the Masters at Augusta the following year.
And both dreamed as youngsters of winning the South African Open, a dream which finally came true for Oosthuizen last summer here at Randpark when he took the title by a six-shot margin. So, can Schwartzel now again follow in the spikemarks of his close friend and long-time foe and capture this year’s SA Open hosted by the City of Joburg back at the club?
Schwartzel just smiles: “It’s true, I haven’t won the SA Open and obviously I want to win it and I’ve come so close – finished second – so many times. But even though I haven’t got across the line I’ve done enough to know that I’ve got the ability to win it. So it will happen some time, and hopefully this is the year.”
The 35-year-old, who plays out of Maccauvlei, missed much of last year with a wrist injury but – after months and months of frustration – he is finally pain-free again, and his first tournament back was the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in December where he contended and felt he could have won it if his bunker play had been a bit sharper.
He says his attitude to golf has changed, and he’s smiling more. When he was sidelined with a wrist that didn’t want to heal, he realised how much he was missing competition and how privileged he was to be a successful professional golfer – something that perhaps had escaped him in the past.
Now he feels he has a second chance in golf. He says he’s working harder than ever before and feels fit and strong with a game that is good enough to win the SA Open come Sunday afternoon. He could well be excused for exclaiming: if Louis can do it, so can I!
Schwartzel starts the tournament Thursday on the Firethorn course on the 1st tee at 12.10 in the company of England’s Eddie Pepperell and Belgian Thomas Detry.
Written by Randpark Member Grant Winter.