Amidst all the talk of a possible Grand Slam by Jordan Spieth in the Majors this year, there was another Slam also being spoken of. That was the “Runner-Up Slam” of Louis Oosthuizen.
Twice this year Oosthuizen came desperately close to adding to his Major tally.
The first was at Chambers Bay in the US Open. Oosthuizen produced an incredible comeback from an opening 77 to eventually finish tied second just one shot behind winner Jordan Spieth.
His final round of 67 included five consecutive birdies on the back nine of a golf course that had dismantled some of the best swings in the game. If he had gone on to win he would’ve become the first player since Sam Parks Jnr. in 1935 to shoot such a high opening score and win the US Open.
And then a month later, Oosthuizen came close again. At his beloved St Andrews, where he won the 2010 Open, the South African Oosthuizen added to the drama of an incredible final round when he made par on 17 and then birdie on 18 to join a playoff with Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman.
Oosthuizen and Johnson both made birdie at the first playoff hole, while Leishman bogeyed. Johnson birdied the second playoff hole as well to take a one-stroke lead over Oosthuizen, who parred the hole. Leishman fell out with his bogey here.
And on the 18th, the final playoff hole, Oosthuizen missed a 10-footer for birdie, leaving Johnson as the winner.
As frustrating as it was to lose out in both Majors, Oosthuizen took a lot from his fightback in the US Open and his performance in the Open.
“Any playoff defeat is disappointing and at St Andrews especially, it’s a place where I always feel like I am going to do well,” Oosthuizen said after an emotionally draining Open.
“It would have been great to defend at the same course where I’d won before. Not many people have done that so I was really motivated to get a win that week. But no regrets over how I played that week. I played well. Zach just played a bit better.”
It was while being injury-free at key points during this year that Oosthuizen was able to play some of his best golf again.
And that has largely been his frustration over the past few years. As much for his fans as for Oosthuizen, because when he is fit there is general consensus that he is easily one of the best in the game.
His close friends saw this first hand when Oosthuizen shot a round of 57 at Mossel Bay Golf Club in 2002.
South Africans saw it when he won the 2008 Telkom PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg 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.
And the world saw it when he won the 2010 Open Championship in St Andrews by a crushing seven strokes.
He came close to adding the Masters in 2012 before losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff, and Oosthuizen says that hurt more than his playoff defeat to Johnson in the Open this year simply because he felt he played some of his best golf that week at Augusta National Golf Club.
He returns to Sun City as one of the leading figures in a generation of young South African golfers making their mark worldwide and hoping to improve on his best finish in the Nedbank Golf Challenge of fourth in 2012.
Born: 19 October 1982.
Turned pro: 2002.
Family: Wife – Nel-Mare. Children – Jana, Sophia, Emma.
Special interests: Hunting, movies.
Career highlights: Won the 2010 Open Championship and finished runner-up in the 2012 Masters after losing in a playoff to Bubba Watson. Winner of 12 tournaments, including back-to-back Volvo Golf Champions titles in 2013 and 2014.
2015 highlights: Finished runner-up in both the US Open and The Open. Finished tied 5th in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and 6th in the Cadillac Championship.
2015 Majors: The Masters – T19. The US Open – T2. The Open – T2. The PGA Championship – T30.
NGC record: Fifth appearance – 2010 – 12, 2012 – 4, 2013 – T14, 2014 – T7.