The last time a South African won one of the majors was in 2012 when Ernie Els triumphed at the British Open – two years after Oosthuizen won the Claret Jug. In between, Charl Schwartzel became the third South African to win the Green Jacket at the Masters.
But since then, South Africans have failed to win one of the majors and last year Schwartzel and Els were the only ones to finish a major in the top ten – Schwartzel tied seventh in the Open, while Els finished the PGA Championship in the same position.
Speaking after competing in the Par-Three contest, which is traditionally played at Augusta National Golf Club a day before the Masters begins on the course, Oosthuizen said all the South Africans were working on a lot of things last year. “It was not the best year for us. Our last really good year was 2012 and hopefully we can get it going again this year.
“I think this year we might be doing better at the majors and the Masters is a good place to start,” the 32-year old said.
Oosthuizen, whose best finish at the Masters was second in 2012, said that he feels confident ahead of Thursday’s opening round. “I am looking forward to the week. At the moment the greens are still soft. But officials will keep the machines on them and they will firm out by the weekend. I am expecting to play well. I am hitting it nicely and my putting is good.”
The Mossel Bay-born golfer played with Masters winners Schwartzel and Immelman in the Par Three contest. “But they did not give me any tips. I have seen them play this golf course, so hopefully I can do the same.”
He expects South Africans to perform well over the four days. “I hope all of us, there are five South Africans in the field, can do well. We are all playing really well and I have played with everyone of them this week and I could see that we are all on form. I think we should do good.
He said he expects a lot from Brandon Grace. “He is playing really well. He is hitting the ball unbelievably and his putting is brilliant.”
2008 Masters champion Immelman was one of five players who hit a hole in one during the Par Three contest, which Kevin Streelman won in a three-hole sudden death play-off against Camilo Villegas.
“It was a lot of fun. It was on the fifth hole, so there were a lot of people on the bank on the left. I hit a pitching wedge, and pitched about 15 feet behind and left of the hole, spun all the way down. When it went in, everybody stood up cheered,” Immelman said.
He said he enjoyed playing with his fellow South Africans. “It’s great. These guys, we kind of grew up coming through the ranks together. They are all major winners in their own right. A lot of fun to be out there with them and have a good time.
“But now I am looking forward to the start of the tournament. Any time you have the opportunity to play at the Masters, it is exciting.” – ANA
Original source: Louis confident ahead of Masters