Golfing hero Louis Oosthuizen spoke today of the wonderful and “unbelievable” reaction of his South African family and friends to his recent win at the British Open Golf Tournament.
Appearing at a press conference for the PGA Championship in Whistling Straits, USA, Louis spoke of his recent trip back to South Africa since his win:
“Yeah, you know the Friday night we had a nice South African braai – which is a barbecue – and with all the friends and family there. I think it was the best thing just seeing everyone and what it meant to them. And the Wednesday, at Mossel Bay Golf Club I’ve never seen them doing that much, going through that much trouble, to set up an evening for me and for the members and it was unbelievable seeing what the win meant to all my friends and family back home.”
He said he’d been inundated with phone calls from old friends, since he won the British Open on Nelson Mandela’s Birthday (18 July) and that he was amazed by the interest from everyone in South Africa, including media “that you wouldn’t think that would have any interest in sport”.
“I think it was a nice thing coming at a good time for South Africa after the World Cup,” he noted. “The country was still on a big high after everything; and my friends and everyone just said it was amazing that ‘just after the World Cup you did that’. So, yeah, it was really special.”
Here’s a full transcript of the press conference with Louis Oosthuizen which took place in Kohler, Wisconsin today:
KELLY ELBIN: We welcome 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen with us. At the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Congratulations on a seven-shot victory at St. Andrews and what must have been an incredible week.
This is your third consecutive PGA Championship, but coming in here having won a major Championship, how has it change your life and how does it feel to be walking into the next Major as the current Major Champion.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Yeah, it’s I guess a bit different. I’m off the golf course at the moment now, but yeah, it’s good fun. It was quite a few things going on after the win. But I think I’m confident that I’m quite anxious to start the tournament and get things under way.
KELLY ELBIN: You haven’t had a chance to play the golf course, things that you’ve heard about it, expectations you have before you go out there today.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: I heard a few things about it. It could scar me for life, I guess. But looking forward to just going out and seeing what it’s like teeing off straight after this and then, yeah, it’s hopefully the wind kicks up a little bit, but you don’t want it too strong out here either. So it should be fun.
Q. I think everyone was taken aback about how you handled yourself over the weekend at St. Andrews and how calm you were. I’m wondering if you were able to sort of appreciate that in retrospect how calm you were over those last two days and could you compare that to another point in your career when you’ve not managed your emotions well?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: When I had my first win earlier this season I was nervous. I came down to the last four holes with four shots, a four shot lead and I was very nervous. And to me it was just, it was a big one just to pull off there to show myself that I can win tournaments on the European Tour.
And then I don’t know for some reason I was just very calm at St. Andrews. I was hitting it really well, swinging it solid all week. And I never really thought that I was going to throw it away at the stretch coming in. And it just made it easier after the 12th hole there, having that kind of lead. It just made it easier. But still I just felt really good the whole week about everything.
Q. Are you of the belief that good play comes from being calm or does being calm come from good play?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: If you are — to me if you are hitting it well it’s easy to stay calm. I think it’s when you know there’s something in your game that’s not sharp and you put yourself in that situation where you got to hit those kind of shots like that then you get a bit more nervous probably. But being calm out on the course definitely helps me think properly about what I want to do out there and making better swings.
Q. Graeme was just in here talking about how the British Open kind of maybe came a little too soon for him and he kind of hadn’t come down from the high of the U.S. Open. Do you have any similar sort of feels coming in this major not even a full month after St. Andrews?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Not really. No. I think that if you are playing well you want to play all the big tournaments that you can. I started off a little bit rough last week at Firestone and just I got it better during the weekend sort of finding my game the last 27 holes really of the tournament. So I think it’s nice playing with knowing in your head you won a major a month ago and I think it’s a nice confidence boost going out there and it’s just a matter of putting everything off the golf course out of your head when you’re on the golf course.
KELLY ELBIN: Louis has tied for the fourth and tied for ninth in his two starts since The Open Championship.
Q. You played two tournaments since your win, you did have time to go back to South Africa, I know it was a whirlwind trip. What was the best thing that happened on your return there to you?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Yeah, you know the Friday night we had a nice South African braai which is a barbecue, and with all the friends and family there I think it was the best thing just seeing everyone and what it meant to them. And the Wednesday, at Musselback Golf Club I’ve never seen them doing that much, going through that much trouble to set up an evening for me and for the members and it was unbelievable seeing what the win meant to all my friends and family back home.
Q. What do you think it says about the game of golf that there’s been so many first time Major winners the last couple years; and Graeme in talking about this earlier said he got a lot belief and confidence from Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman, previous guys who kind of came out of nowhere. Curious if that played at all into your success do you think?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Yeah, I think it’s, at the moment, anyone that tees off in any of these events can win it. You got such strong fields every week and it’s not just three or four guys that stand out, it’s probably 50 guys that stand out. So definitely when Trevor won the Masters, you know, knowing Trevor, playing with him a bit and you see that he’s also just, he’s, you can play with him, you can do it. So it definitely helped me a lot in any tournament. I just think it’s getting to a stage where you can have, in majors, you can have different winners all the time.
Q. Given the connection with Trevor, how much did that, the fact that, you obviously know him from your country, how much of that personally did it impact you? Could you kind of expand on that?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: When I grew up, when I started playing junior golf Trevor was almost done with junior golf. He was probably four or five years older than me, I’m not sure, and everyone looked up at him as a junior and as an amateur. When I came into the amateur ranks into South Africa he had just turned professional and you know everything that he’s done. And then eventually turning pro and playing some tournaments with him you always look up to him. And seeing him win you know exactly what he did as a junior and as an amateur and you’ve done pretty much almost the same things, so it definitely gives you a nice boost going into tournaments.
Q. You said you have not played this course, correct?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: No.
Q. How do you go about preparing for a course you’ve never been to before, especially a unique one such as this?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: My coach just said to me on the range, look carefully off the tee, get your lines right. So I think it’s going to be a 18 holes where you probably have got to focus out there and try and take everything in on the golf course. It helps, for me it helps when I play, when I almost play a little game when I’m out there, play the ball like I would in the tournament. But, yeah, it’s just a matter of just having a proper look around and just see what it’s like.
Q. What’s the most unusual or surprising things that’s happened to you since winning the British? Have you run into anybody whose said anything kind of memorable or had any experience that has kind of personalized it for you?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: It’s probably having — I don’t know, it’s probably getting so many phone calls back in South Africa from people that I have ran into as a junior and things like that. And to me it was amazing everyone back home who was interested in golf really, people you wouldn’t think, magazines and things like that that you wouldn’t think that would have any interest in sport. It was just nice seeing what it meant to my family, friends, and even people around me and I think it was a nice thing coming at a good time for South Africa after the World Cup. The country was still on a big high after everything and my friends and everyone just said it was amazing that just after the World Cup you did that. So, yeah, it was really special.
Q. Did you hear anything from Mandela or his people? Because I know you mentioned him, obviously, in your victory speech, made note of the fact that it was his birthday the day that you won.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: No, I didn’t. But I’m really thankful for what I read from him about my speech.
Q. I’m assuming that you’ve had the same caddie as you had at the Open.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Yes.
Q. Could you just talk a little bit about how you two got together and how you all work together and that relationship.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Yeah, we started out in December of 2003, I just got my European Tour card and I met him actually at a qualifying for the British Open back in South Africa. And we actually qualified that week, it was the first time he was on my bag and we qualified for the British Open and we played the next year at 2004, which was my first one.
Yeah, ever since we have been together. I think it’s a good relationship that we have been together for seven or eight years almost and you got your ups and downs, but I think we work most of our things out and we are doing good together.
KELLY ELBIN: You’ve had nine top 15 finishes this year. Did you have any sense going into the year that it could be this type of breakout year?
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: No. Every year I play I want to get that win. A European Tour win. I felt like if I could get the one win, the second one was going to come much easier. I didn’t know the second one was going to be the British. And it’s amazing how quickly it just changed. Everyone around me was telling me, you know, you can win big tournaments, and it was just a matter of doing it. And I think the win earlier this season just came at the right time.
KELLY ELBIN: 2010 open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Thank you, Louis.
LOUIS OOSTUIZEN: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.