South African Louis Oosthuizen holds quite an unenviable record in golf majors. Although he was able to win the 2010 Open Championship, he has also been bridesmaid in the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
In 2012, he led the Masters at Augusta until the 70th competition hole before being caught and taken to a play-off by the eventual winner, Bubba Watson, losing at the second extra hole.
In 2015, he went back to the ‘home of golf’ at St Andrews and lost a four-hole play-off, to finish second once again, this time to Zach Johnson.
He filled the same spot at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay in Washington, although this would be his most-impressive second-place finish, as he shot 77 in the first round.
Two rounds of 66 and 67 saw him finish just one shot behind the eventual winner Jordan Spieth.
To complete his almost unwelcome second-place Grand Slam, he played four steady rounds of 70, 67, 71 and 70 again to finish -6 and two shots behind winner Justin Thomas at Quail Hollow in the 2017 USPGA Championship.
Recently turned 37, Oosthuizen is by no means an elder statesman of the game and still has plenty left in the tank, so there’s every chance of him going one better in one of the three Majors. RSNG asks him, can it be in 2020?
RSNG Your history of second-places… how do you keep picking yourself up?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN, ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID ‘In my mind, it’s about accepting you were close but not close enough, and actually it’s about applauding yourself for how close you have got.’
‘It’s no mean feat to come second at anything, and it’s certainly no embarrassment, and on another day things might have been different… and in future, hopefully they will. That’s the sort of mentality you need to adopt as a golfer, otherwise there’s no point in turning up on the first tee.’
‘I think what has helped me in those events where I have been close is that I’ve often been coming from back down the field. I know from other events that when I’m in the lead I’m often able to hold on to what I have.’
‘When you are attacking the leaders and gaining ground on them, that’s all about playing fearlessly and that’s much more suited to the way I play the game, so you can see why I have become regarded as one of those golfers who closes in on others. The simple fact is, eventually, you run out of holes!’
RSNG If you could pick a course to win at and break your run of second-places, where would it be?
LO ‘Well, I have always dreamed of winning at Augusta, and I believe that would actually be the most suitable course for me because my game is right for that course - I know each of the shots that are required to win it.’
‘It was a bit frustrating to fall just short in 2012 and actually lose to Bubba Watson on the second play-off hole.’
‘I managed to score what was only the fourth-ever albatross on the course in its history, but even that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t easy to get over that loss, as I was so close. But, at least I know how it can be done and although it was amazing to win the Open and also go close in the others, the Masters is the one I think I can go one better in.’
‘It’s a bit frightening to see how good players are with such little experience of the professional game under their belt’
RSNG What do you think it takes to win at Augusta National, then?
LO ‘Well, every part of your game has to be right on form. You can’t go there with one element or attribute lacking. You need to be able to drive the ball in the right places, your irons have to be right and because of the unique nature of the greens, your putting has to be strong. It will test every facet of your golfing ability.’
RSNG How do you feel about the young players in the game at the moment and how would you compare them to how you were at the same age?
LO ‘I would say that it’s a bit frightening to see how good players are with such little experience of the professional game under their belt. Even players like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are all still relatively young and it certainly gives me the slight impression that I am one of the older guys on the tour!’
‘But one thing that it shows you is that the game has certainly changed and it’s like that with a few sports, now. You can’t just go and teach a lesson to a young player coming through – mostly they already know how to play the game to a high standard, and they are certainly no mugs.’
‘That means that as a professional, regardless of how long you have been playing the game or on the tour and in familiar surroundings when you go to a course or event that you have played getting double-figure times, you still need to be mentally strong and prepared for a tough round – especially if it’s match play.’
‘All I ever wanted to be as a kid was a golfer – I didn’t want to be a businessman, and I don’t think any of us on the tour did!’
RSNG Away from golf, you have your own brand called Louis 57. Tell us a little bit more about that?
LO ‘Well, the name comes from the fact that I was able to shoot that number on my local club at Mossel Bay and that was the starting point for a brand and name.’
‘First we used the brand for wines - we got Peter Matkovich to design a golf course under the brand and a lot of golf courses around the world, we have a junior golf academy, a travel website, a lager, a restaurant and a foundation.’
‘So, it’s certainly come a long way and we do as much as we can to help those we welcome in - children, those with special needs, golfers, or regular, everyday people who just want to be involved.’
RSNG Looking for other opportunities outside of golf, in terms of growing a business or commercial partnerships seems a very popular way to go for golfers and sportsmen in general these days?
LO ‘I think there’s always a temptation to reach out and see how you can utilise a brand or an idea, and I do like that.’
‘However, at the back of my mind is always the fact I am a sportsman first and foremost, and I wouldn’t ever want business aims or commitments to get in the way of the fact all I ever wanted to be as a kid was a golfer. I didn’t want to be a businessman, and I don’t think any of us on the tour did!’
‘The lure of the next project is always big, but ultimately that can wait for another day, and my commercial aims are really involved in golf and extending my reach and my influence out to as many people as possible, whilst still celebrating what is the best sport in the world.’
WHAT NEXT? Read our guide to course management and discover how to be your own caddie
Then, watch Louis Oosthuizen’s 500-yard drive…