ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — When Louis Oosthuizen played in the last British Open held at the home of golf, he was such an unknown that the Royal & Ancient put out a fact sheet with 11 things to know about him.
The South African ended the week walking off with the claret jug.
That was five years ago. No need for a primer this week, although he’s not done springing surprises.
During last month’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Oosthuizen tried out a new putting technique — looking at the hole rather than the ball — and it almost propelled him to a second major title.
He finished with rounds of 66-66-67 to finish in a tie for second, giving him momentum and the buzz of being in contention again at a major heading to St. Andrews.
“I had a bit of a glimpse of (my best form) on the last three rounds at Chambers Bay, and that really got me motivated to this week,” Oosthuizen said Tuesday. It gives me the confidence knowing what I’ve done here and that I can play this golf course.”
He’ll want a better start to the British Open than he made at Chambers Bay. He shot 77 in the first round, which at least was better than the 80 posted by his playing partner, Tiger Woods.
They are in the same group again at St. Andrews, uniting the players who have won the last three British Opens to be staged on the Old Course.
“Hopefully we can pull each other in the right direction this time,” Oosthuizen said. “I always enjoy playing with him. He’s won twice around here. I want to see the way he plays this golf course. Just hopefully we make a few more birdies the first round than we did at Chambers.”
Woods wouldn’t be surprised to see Oosthuizen sticking to his new technique on the greens.
“They were going in from all different distances,” Woods said Tuesday. “Forget all the birdie putts from 20 feet or 30 feet, he was making every single par putt from 10 feet in, so it kept the momentum of the round going and it kept building and kept building and kept building.
“It really wasn’t a surprise that he contended.”
Oosthuizen said he is over the back and neck injuries that have bothered him the last two years and is “feeling 100 times better than what I was.”
And he is just inspired to be back on the course where he made his name five years ago. All the memories have flooded back.
“The biggest was Monday walking down 18, seeing the grandstands and remembering that moment walking in 2010 on Sunday afternoon,” he recalled. “I played with Branden (Grace), whose caddie Zack (Rasego) was working for me then, and the two of us looked at each other, smiled, and said it was great to just do that walk again and feel that bit of magic around here.”
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