ST ANDREWS, Scotland, (Reuters) – British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen has come a long way since his father refused to take him or his brother on to a golf course.
“My dad was very cross with us. He refused to take us on the golf course because he wanted to play tennis,” Oosthuizen told a news conference yesterday near the scene of his triumph on the Old Course’s 18th green less than 24 hours earlier.
“He was a big tennis player and he was on the court looking at me and my brother as we walked past to play golf,” he added.
The Oosthuizen brothers’ obduracy not only paid off for Louis but also converted their father.
“Two years after that he started playing golf as well, and he still plays. He doesn’t play tennis anymore,” Oosthuizen said to laughter in the media tent.
Now a father himself, the 27-year-old South African said family life had played a big part in his maturing process with his baby daugher Jana already showing an interest in the winner’s Claret Jug.
“I put the jug next to her this morning and took a few pictures. She just grabbed it and took it straight to her mouth. She loves it,” he said.
Oosthuizen is a former protege of three-times major winner and compatriot Ernie Els. He talked of the pair’s conversation after claiming the year’s third major and his first.
“I could actually see him speaking to me. He was probably on the couch in his shorts. He was just very proud,” he said.
For a self-confessed fan of warm weather golf, Oosthuizen did marvellously well in trying conditions around the tricky Scottish links layout.
“I hate it when my hands are cold, but I’m a bit wiser now. I’ve got hand warmers in my golf bag,” he said.
Oosthuizen, who leaped up the rankings from 54 into the top 20 for the first time, had won only once on the European tour since turning professional in 2002.
He is the sixth South African major winner after Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.
“I’m going to work a bit harder from now on and try and get up there in as many majors as I can,” he said. “Winning one just wants you to get to the second one and then a third.”
Oosthuizen, called Shrek by his friends after the green cartoon ogre because of his gap-toothed smile, won by seven strokes after starting as a 200-1 outsider.
“They didn’t put Shrek on the jug. I’m happy about that,” he joked before cradling the trophy on his way down to the Swilcan Bridge to pose for photographers on a warm Scottish morning.