Oosthuizen admits to exhaustion
Open champion Louis Oosthuizen looks a wreck as he takes a seat on a couch in the plush Leopard Creek clubhouse, the sweat from a round in sub-tropical heat still glistening in his stubble.
But the fatigue is mostly mental, even though Oosthuizen has just taken 71 shots to get around the course in the steaming heat of South Africa's lowveld. The 28-year-old admits he did not realise the biggest year of his career would tire him out so much.
"The Open win has definitely sunk in, I've been feeling drained for the last five months," he says.
"The year is getting very long, I had a very difficult schedule with the Sunshine Tour at the end too. You want to do everything, but it's tough being mentally tired. It makes it difficult to play well, it gets to you in the end," Oosthuizen told Reuters in an interview on Friday during the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
The South African endured a disappointing end to his breakthrough season, tearing ankle ligaments while on a hunting trip and missing seven weeks as the European Tour reached its climax. He returned in time for the finale, the Dubai World Championship, and finished 13th to claim 10th spot in the Race to Dubai.
"It was frustrating, but it was also a good time to get off, spend some time with the family and think about what I'd achieved," Oosthuizen, the father of an 11-month-old daughter, said.
Oosthuizen is widely credited with one of the best swings in the game but to him it is still a work in progress.
"I still have a lot of things to work on with my swing. I got it beautifully right at the Open, which was real nice, but I'm looking for consistency, getting the swing right every week.
That way my whole game will be more consistent, instead of having ups and downs."
While his Open triumph at St Andrew's, on the 150th anniversary of golf's oldest Major tournament, catapulted the man from the south-western coastal town of Mossel Bay into the top echelons of golf, Oosthuizen has more to his CV than just that commanding victory. He is already ranked number 24 in the world and also won the Andalucia Open in March.
"I always saw myself as winning one of the Majors, but I didn't think it would happen so soon. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence to tee it up in all sorts of different tournaments. Major championships are what we work for, it's what we enjoy playing in. But winning in Andalucia was also quite special because it took me a while to break through in Europe.
"So the Open just topped off the year, really, and playing in the Sun City Challenge last week was also very special," Oosthuizen said.
Despite ending the year in such a state of fatigue, having also suffered from a stomach virus at Sun City, Oosthuizen is planning an ambitious split schedule next year between the US PGA and European tours.
"It would be nice to win in America. I'll be playing both tours, splitting it 50/50, which will be tough. But I want to get my mind focused on being on top of my game at the Majors," Oosthuizen explained.
The genial golfer, nicknamed "Shrek",. is on a never-ending quest to push himself. Apart from his swing, he also wants to become more consistent with his wedges and no one who saw him in action this year would dare to suggest a second Major is beyond his reach.