4/12/2012 11:38:58 AM
Much like his big win at St. Andrews in 2010, Oosthuizen was a surprising
competitor last weekend at Augusta National.
In three previous trips to the Masters, Oosthuizen had not only missed the cut
all three times, but he never broke par in any of his six rounds. What did he
do last week?
Of course, he posted three rounds of 69 or better. Nothing like having a
career week at one of the four majors.
Prior to his win at the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen broke par in just
one of 14 rounds in the six majors he had appeared in, and he had made the cut
in one, the 2008 PGA Championship. Unfortunately, he finished last at that
Oosthuizen was propelled into the lead in Sunday's final round at Augusta by
his double-eagle on the par-five second. It was the fourth albatross in
The bad thing for the South African was that he played the other 17 holes of
regulation in even-par as Watson rallied to tie him at 10-under.
Oosthuizen rarely flinched all weekend, but down the stretch he hit a pair of
poor drives that cost him dearly. His second bad drive opened the door for
The duo was on the 10th hole, the second of the playoff, and left-handed
Watson tugged his tee shot into the right trees. No one knew how bad the shot
was from the tee, so Oosthuizen switched from driver to three-wood.
He flared it right, but got a lucky kick back into the fairway. Oosthuizen had
a longer than normal second shot, which he left short of the green. Watson had
just enough of an opening to create a remarkable shot onto the green.
Oosthuizen failed to get up and down for par, then watched Watson two-putt for
par and the win. Watson became the eighth straight first-time major champion,
a run that includes Oosthuizen's win at St. Andrews.
Prior to the 2010 British Open, not many people had heard of Louis Oosthuizen,
and he even said in the media center at the Masters that, to this day, no one
pronounces his name correctly.
The poor guy narrowly lost out on winning his second major, which would have
given him one more than Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Tom Kite, Ken Venturi, Bob
Charles or Davis Love III, and people still can't say his name right?
We should learn it, because the guy is going to be around for a while. The
South African won't turn 30 until mid-October. He claimed his fourth European
Tour title earlier this year and preceded his playoff loss at Augusta with a
share of third place in Houston.
Oosthuizen went through a rough stretch last year in which he missed the cut
in every other tournament during a 13-event span. He broke out of that up-and-
down rut with six top-eight finishes in his last seven starts.
He has played less to this point in the year than he did last year, and that
not only is helping his game now, but will help him keep his stamina up as the
year rolls along.
Don't bet against Oosthuizen winning another major in the near future.
MASTERS ODDS AND ENDS
Sundays at the Masters are always special, but this past Sunday has to rank in
the top 10 of all-time best final days.
Where to start with highlights? Bo Van Pelt fired the low round of the week,
an eight-under 64. His round included a hole-in-one on the par-three 16th.
Adam Scott later aced that same hole.
Of course the second-best shot of the week was Louis Oosthuizen's double-eagle
on the second. That shot was bettered only by Bubba Watson's shot from the
trees on No. 10 in the playoff.
So those were the good things we saw on Sunday. How about the bad?
Phil Mickelson hitting two shots right-handed. They were worse than his tee
shot that hit a railing and landed in some bamboo.
Hideki Matsuyama had the lead for low amateur until making bogey on two of the
last three holes.
Henrik Stenson was in contention on Thursday and Friday. The first round ended
with a snowman on the par-four 18th, then he had a double-bogey on the 17th in
Friday's second round.
As if that weren't bad enough, in the final round, Stenson had a birdie, seven
bogeys and a double-bogey en route to a closing 81. Miguel Angel Jimenez also
closed with an 81 in which he had a birdie, two double-bogeys and six bogeys.
The dramatic swings at the top and bottom of the leaderboard are what make the
Masters the most entertaining of the four major championships.
* A week after explaining how slow the LPGA played during their first major,
the PGA wasn't any better. The first group during Friday's second round took 4
hours, 53 minutes and the final group was 5 hours, 45 minutes. Again, I
realize there is a lot on the line, but both of those tournaments had smaller
than normal fields. I can only imagine how long rounds will take at the U.S.
Open with its tough course conditions and 156 players.
* The only thing better than Bubba Watson winning the Masters is watching
Bubba Watson on the interview circuit. His appearance on the Letterman show
the other night was simply awesome.