Louis not yet bulletproof
By Neville Leck Last updated: 15th January 2013
Louis Oosthuizen, the new World No 4, will likely be over the moon with the breakaway 66 that took him from five shots back to victory in the Volvo Golf Champions on Sunday.
It was a blistering finish crafted in a great big pressure cooker in which he was able to thrive while his challenger-in-chief, Scott Jamieson, was not able to and saw himself hauled in and then overtaken heading down the stretch.
In the end of a tense battle, the talented young Scot, winner of December's Nelson Mandela Challenge at nearby Royal Durban GC, failed by two shots to make it a magnificent Durban double when he slipped back with a closing level-par 72.
On Friday Oosthuizen and his amateur partner, Colin Ledwith, won the week's pro-am which was incorporated with the Championship's second round and for this Oosthuizen was delighted to win a new Volvo C40 motor car and then even more delighted when Volvo allowed him to swap it for one of their big, yellow excavators, something he had been wanting for his farm ever since seeing one on display at the 2010 Volvo China Open, and something he feels he can get more use out of than he can from a luxury automobile right now.
Apart from moving from No 6 to No 4 in the World Rankings on the strength of his sixth European Tour victory and his first since his Maybank Malaysian Open victory last year, Oosthuizen also moved into second place in the 2013 Race to Dubai standings, his Tour earnings so far of €350,000 putting him €68 300 behind first-placed Jamieson and €112 250 ahead of third-placed compatriot Charl Schwartzel, winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
It was no wonder then that his gap-tooth smile was broader than it has ever been on Sunday - and yet not everything about his performance last week was uplifting.
He will clearly be concerned by the way he stumbled on Saturday when he fell back with a two-over par 74 that was 10 shots worse than the 64 he had shot on Friday and left him in deep trouble, all of five shots off the lead.
His storming final round - shades of his stunning finish at the 2010 Open where he left the field flat-footed and open-mouthed - did eventually get him to the tape ahead of Jamieson, to be sure - but only just.
For if Jamieson, who is still a relatively inexperienced final-round front-runner, had managed to nail just one or two putts of the kind that went in so cleanly and easily on Saturday, but which so doggedly stayed out on Sunday, Oosthuizen's big slip on Saturday would have been hugely costly.
The 30-year-old farmer's son has all the qualities that go towards creating a multi-major winner.
He can hit the ball as long and as straight as the world's best, seldom looks flustered, can sink some magnificent putts when it really matters and it's certainly not for nothing that he currently features so high up on the World Rankings and Race to Dubai money lists.
It is these qualities that have made him one of the world's most consistent performers in recent months, his victory on Sunday giving him his fifth top six finish in his last six starts.
He tied for sixth in both the 2012 BMW Masters and 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions, was second in the 2012 Barclays Singapore Open and 5th in the tour-closing DP World Tour Championship in Dubai before launching his 2013 campaign with his victory in Durban.
But having said all this, Oosthuizen must know that he is not quite as bulletproof as he is going to need to be if he hopes to win more majors and other biggies for quite frankly he was a little lucky that Jamieson allowed him to get back into the race and Sunday and he could and should have won all or some of the above listed events if he hadn't had a tendency to let things slip in one or two late rounds.
Oosthuizen talked this weekend of his swing feeling "horrible" on Saturday.
"Yesterday (Saturday) it felt all wrong," he said. "I felt like I had no control and I was hitting wayward shots, and then today, this morning on the range, I hit five, six shots; swinging through the ball; and the minute I get that feeling, I know that I can hit really good shots. I hit it exactly where I wanted to and yeah, I'm just very happy that I can sit here after that bad score yesterday."
That he was able to find a winning solution to his immediate problem was important, make no mistake, but what might be crucial to his future; to whether he becomes a great player rather than a fine player, is for him to find a remedy to those unfortunate late round stumbles.
If he can tighten up a little on his classical swing and tune himself in to play consistency well for 72 holes only some brilliant opposition is going to prevent him becoming one of the games rare multi-major champions.
Neville Leck Blog
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