An excavator drove Louis
Last updated: 12th January 2013
What the golfing public at Durban Country Club didn't know on the second day of the Volvo Champions on Friday was that Louis Oosthuizen was driven by a big yellow excavator.
With his classic swing working like clockwork, the 2010 Open Champion was able to craft a sparkling eight-birdie 64 they took his halfway total to an impressive 12-under and edged him one shot clear of first round leader Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, who just before Christmas had won the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship at nearby Royal Durban and whose 64 on Friday saw him match Oosthuizen and give notice that he too is also a serious contender as he bids to pick up a second European Tour victory in SA in a month.
Jamieson, who won at Royal Durban in even wetter conditions than he's had this week - there was so much rain there that the event had to be shortened to 36 holes - missed out on the motor car this week, but he was as upbeat about his form as he has ever been.
He said: "I don't know what it is, but I'm hoping it's not a temporary thing and that it's here to stay. But I have to add that after winning (at Royal Durban), I'm a bit more comfortable at this level so I'm looking forward to the weekend.".
But to get back to Oosthuizen; the fact that his 64 will see him top the Volvo Champions leaderboard heading into the weekend was nowhere near as important on the day as was the fact that his back-to-back closing birdies on the 17th and 18th holes helped clinch the tournament's pro-am title with English amateur Colin Ledwith, and with it win a dream piece of farming equipment he's had his eye on ever since seeing one at the Volvo China Open two years ago.
Actually the prize he should have picked up was the latest, sleek Volvo V40 automobile, but being a passionate "farm boy" who spends most of his life travelling, he had already negotiated a deal with the sponsoring Motoring giants to exchange the V40 for a Volvo Excavator if he and his partner could win the pro-am.
It was not without reason, therefore, that Oosthuizen was smiling like a Cheshire cat when he later disclosed that winning the excavator was the driving force behind his two-birdie finish.
"This is a great gift for the farm," Oosthuizen told sports media specialist Lali Stander after his Friday heroics.
"I've got loads of great equipment on the farm, but this is going to be right up there. I've been nagging my wife about getting one for about two years. I had wanted something like this to get rid of a some bush on my farm.
"I had a few discussions with Volvo this week about purchasing the excavator," he explained, "And they told me I could get it if I won the pro-am and the car, so I was well aware of what I had to gain when I stood over that final putt on 18."
It was another tough day of rain and a delayed start at Durban Country Club on Friday, but Oosthuizen's power off the tee, great ball-striking and some extraordinary putts helped him fare better than most on the waterlogged course.
"It hit the ball really well and I putted beautifully. Nobody likes playing in these kinds of conditions, but we knew it was going to be a day like this."
Although Oosthuizen's excellent consistency last year helped him became South Africa's highest world ranked player at No 6, he did miss out on one or two victories when his game unraveled a little in the closing rounds, so now that the excavator is in the bag, his priority this weekend is going to have to be to produce one of those rock-solid, front-runner finishes that earned him his 2010 Open title and, for a long spell, made Tiger Woods so formidable.
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