Louis Oosthuizen looks to put Open Championship disappointment behind him at 3M Open
July 21, 2021
By Jeff Babineau , PGATOUR.COM
- July 21, 2021
- Louis Oosthuizen will look to continue his good form this week at the 3M Open. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
Louis Oosthuizen said he was fine by Monday morning after the 149th Open, the venerable championship contested at Royal St. George’s along the southern coast of England. Calm. Smiling again. Leaving the course on Sunday evening, there was still some smoldering ashes in his belly, the remnants of one more week of strong play in a major championship week that left him headed to a chartered flight without the trophy in tow.
The best way for Oosthuizen to ease past the sting after he watched a 54-hole lead at The Open morph into a disheartening third-place finish? Get right back in the game, and on the golf course. Oosthuizen, a farmer himself with 80-plus acres at his newly purchased ranch in Ocala, Fla., will be back in action in farm country beginning Thursday, teeing it up for the first time at the 3M Open staged at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota.
Oosthuizen authored one of the best runs of the past decade at the majors in 2021, but was unable to add a second Claret Jug to the one that he won at St. Andrews in 2010. (That one wasn’t close – he would win by seven shots.) He’ll tee it up in Blaine this week in the midst of a renaissance of sorts. The soon-to-be 39-year-old tied for second (behind 51-year-old Phil Mickelson) at the PGA Championship; finished runner-up to Jon Rahm’s birdie-birdie finish at Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open; and then controlled the 149th Open through much of the week before a disappointing Sunday showing left tied for third.
Oosthuizen finished with a 1-over 71, matching the highest score among the Open’s top 14 finishers on a benign Sunday afternoon. Twelve of those 14 shot in the 60s, including eventual champion Collin Morikawa, who fired 66. And afterward, Oosthuizen was in no mood to chat about his play, a rarity for the easy-going and amicable South African.
“I wasn't really up for that conversation right there,” he said. “It was disappointing. I mean, walking off the golf course … Collin played the way you should play to win a major, especially on a Sunday. He didn't make many mistakes and when he did make a mistake, he made unbelievable up-and-downs for pars. It was just frustrating because I knew my game was definitely there to have a good solid day. Weather was as good as you can get at The Open, so it was just a bit of frustration and disappointment really.”
The bigger picture would be this: Oosthuizen, whose victory at The Open in 2010 surprisingly stands as his lone PGA TOUR triumph, stayed at or near the top of three consecutive majors over 12 consecutive rounds, never veering beyond the top 3. His sweet swing and always-steady ballstriking joined up with highly improved putting numbers – Oosthuizen leads the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting after ranking as far down as 121st just three seasons ago – to create an effective arsenal in the big events. It’s a formula he plans to continue as he tackles the homestretch of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR regular season and heads toward the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Oosthuizen climbed to ninth in the Official World Golf Ranking and also to ninth in FedExCup points after Sunday. He is in prime position to challenge for the TOUR Championship after missing the event in four of the last five seasons. At 38, he is playing some of his best golf.
The sting of coming close at Royal St. George’s, he said, is something that he will use to motivate him, and will not be something that will deflate him.
“You will be disappointed, but I try not to think of it too much afterwards,” he said. “You know, assess everything and still look back at it, was a good week, it was a great week, and let's go on, what can I do better on the next one? Definitely motivate yourself to go to the next one out there and then know that you can perform in majors and trying to go one better.
“I'll take more motivation out of it than being disappointed.”
That’s exactly why Oosthuizen has turned up in Minnesota ready to play, and glad to be on property. There will be too much to do to wallow in memories of last week. He heard very good things about TPC Twin Cities and the three-year-old tourney from his old pal, fellow South African Charl Schwartzel, and was impressed with the back nine that he saw for the first time on Wednesday morning.
At 38, and feeling healthy after being slowed by injuries in his past, Oosthuizen truly believes his best golf years still can be ahead of him.
“I think I can still do better,” he said. “You can always improve. You know, I'm just doing what I've been doing the last three, four years really, not really doing anything different. I think it's just the work is starting to pay off and I'm just having a good time on the golf course, and trying to enjoy my golf as much as I can.”
Occasionally, those close calls at the biggest events are sure to hurt a little. One day soon, maybe on the back porch at the farm, Oosthuizen will look back to the finish of his 2021 major championship season – results of T2, 2, and T3 – and give himself more credit than he has to this point.
“I would look back at all the finishes that I had in majors and the way I played them and be really proud of what I achieved,” he said. “You know, being able to perform at major levels … it’s what it's all about.”