An Interview With: Louis Oosthuizen
ED HERLIHY: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to introduce last year's Open Championship winner, Louis Oosthuizen. He put in an inspiring performance and won by an astounding seven shots at St. Andrews. We are proud to welcome here for the third time and want to wish him the very best of luck this week.
Louis, would you please make an opening comment about your preparations for the Masters this year, and then we'll open it up to questions.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it's always a great year. Looking forward all year probably to this, since the PGA. You want to get your short game probably the best you can get it for this week, and, yeah, I think playing last week was a good week to almost finalize the preparations and just come here and play.
Yeah, the game feels good, so yeah, hopefully can pull something off.
Q. What's the last months been like as the Open Champion, and does it seem like just yesterday or does it seem like a long time ago now?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it seemed like just yesterday to me. So I mean, it's nice, whenever I feel like I'm not playing too well, I just look at some of the DVDs I got through the television and stuff just to have a look at how I played and what can I do different and things like that.
I mean, it was a great tournament and I'm just trying to go forward from there.
Q. When you watch the highlights on the DVD of the Open, is there anything that strikes you, any part of your game where you say, I really putted great or I really hit that shot well or anything like that?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, probably the way I was driving it that week off the tee. We play St. Andrews quite a lot on The European Tour; we play the Dunhill Links, as well. And with the wind always blowing there, if you're not driving it well and you find a lot of the bunkers, you've got a hard day's work.
That week, I went in one bunker, which was on the last hole, the 14th, and I think that just showed me how well I was driving it, because the trouble is from the tee boxes because you can't really see where you're going. You have to hit it to exactly where you are aiming.
Q. People always talk about the steep learning curve here at Augusta National. I just wondered, what is the most important lesson you've learned about playing here, and what's been the most beneficial practice round you've had here?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I think you need to play this golf course as many rounds get as many rounds in here as you can.
It's the type of golf course where, to me, it's a second shot golf course really. It all goes where you leave yourself, what type of birdie putt you leave yourself.
You can get some slippery ones here. So I think you need to get used to you might have putts that you know you are not going to get it within six or eight foot and get your head around that and know you're going to have a long ish putt for par. I think that's the main thing here; that you just need to know that you are going to have quite a few difficult putts.
You know, you've got to get yourself in the right spots on those greens.
Q. And the most beneficial practice round? I assume you've played with Ernie and Gary here.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I played I think my first year, in 2009, when I played with Trevor and Gary Player, and that was really nice. Getting both of them, Trevor that's won it, and just the other day, and Gary has won it ages ago; just to see the difference in course management and around the course, which was really nice to see.
I mean, it was amazing how similar that both of them are course management wise when they get to the greens. It was just nice getting any information from a past champion around this course.
Q. What does Ernie Els mean to South African golf, and what does he mean to you, a player a bit younger, watching him?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: When I grew up, he was the one that won the U.S. Open for his first major and things like that, and we didn't really see any golf that Mr. Player played.
Ernie was the one that everyone wanted to be like. I mean, they still I think in South Africa, and probably around the world, he probably is still one of the heroes out there; one of the big heroes out there.
You know, golfing wise, there's not many swings like Ernie's, and everyone just is so easy about it. That's probably where the name came from. So it means a lot for me, as well, going through his foundation.
It's just great now playing practice rounds and things with him.
Q. Personally, your relationship going through the Foundation, would you have been able to get to where you are without that, or was there another avenue, or was that very important?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: It was very important, because, I mean, coming off a farm, my dad was a farmer, and probably struggled a little bit those days. And the Foundation came at a perfect timing. You know, I was in it for three years just before I turned pro, and just everything that the Foundation did golfing wise for me was a great foundation to my pro career.
Q. Do you plan on playing in the Par 3 Contest, and do you believe in the jinx?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I don't like to believe in things like that but it happens all the time. I'm definitely playing again. I'll probably my little girl is going to walk with, so I'll probably try and get her to kick the ball or something so that my score don't count. (Laughter).
Q. I wanted to ask basically how your life has changed since winning the Open, and how that might change, hopefully for the better, your results here.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I mean, golfing wise, going into a tournament, confidence and everything is a lot higher. Especially in the majors. And you know, just shows you that or showed me, that I can win a major and that I can compete in big tournaments and things like that.
Off the golf course, it's just a lot more decisions to make scheduling wise, all those kind of things. It's a different it's completely different than what I was used to, and it took me a while to get used to it, and probably still I'm still getting used to it.
But it's a good change.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how you're playing coming in, and in general, how do you feel this golf course sets up for your game?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I love the golf course. And that always is a great start to any tournament. You get weeks that you are not really you don't feel comfortable on the golf course, but I feel very comfortable out here.
I had a good start to the season and then really went a bit down. And the last four or five weeks, struggled with an eye infection and all kind of things. Had to withdraw from Spain and then played last week and was quite a bit surprised the way I played really. I thought it was going to be quite a bit more rusty than that.
You know, so that gave me a little boost to this week, and been working with my coach a bit yesterday, probably again today and tomorrow. So I feel quite good for this week, and it's just a matter of staying calm out there, because you know you're going to get a few tough ones, and it's the type of golf course that can easily hurt you.
Q. Just curious if you had any more hunting trips since that unfortunate accident of yours?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I had a hunting trip in America, actually. But we went quail and pheasant hunting in West Palm Beach, and Nick Price took me and Charl Schwartzel. It was really nice, we had a week off and he took us up there. It was fun. But I'm very careful now when I do anything like that (laughing).
Q. What images come to your mind when you think about watching this tournament when you were growing up, and how much did you watch it?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I didn't like to watch golf, as an amateur even. But the Masters was the one event that at night when we are in South Africa, it starts at 10 o'clock at night, and it's probably the one event I've always watched.
So it's just great walking on the fairways here and just thinking back, yeah, I was always watching people walk over the bridge and things like that. I think Amen Corner just stands out always. Just playing it is different than watching it, and it's just a great feeling when you go out on this golf course.
Q. Can you just expand on that? Why was it the Masters that you watched? Why did you go out of your way to watch this?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, everything is so beautiful. It looked so beautiful on television. I don't know why it is. I just liked watching it. I can't really explain why. It's just one of those events that it's great watching it on television.
ED HERLIHY: We wish you the best of luck this week, and thank you very much. Appreciate you coming by.