Column: Oosthuizen hard to pronounce and hard to finish

Jul 18, 2021, 2:01 AM | Updated: 3:21 pm

For a long time, the hardest thing about being a Louis Oosthuizen fan was figuring out how to pronounce his last name.

Now it’s figuring out what’s going on inside his mind.

Two major championships seemingly his for the asking in the space of a month. Two final rounds that left a lot of fans shaking their heads.

He gave one away on the coast of California with a drive into the canyon at the U.S. Open that no one expected. Then he let Collin Morikawa zoom past him on the front nine in the British Open, an outcome that seemed almost inevitable from the time the final pairing teed off Sunday on the coast of England.

Oh, yeah, he also finished second to Phil Mickelson two months ago in the PGA Championship, another major that was there for the taking.

What’s it take for a guy to win a major anyway? Oosthuizen surely wants to know, as the memory of his British Open win in 2010 fades further into the past.

He managed to get away from Royal St. George’s without letting anyone else know. While Morikawa was accepting the claret jug, Oosthuizen left without talking about his latest Sunday failure, a puzzling decision because he has always been a thoughtful interview.

The day before, he hinted at his strategy for taking a lead into the final round. Turns out it was just to play golf, something that didn’t work out too well in the two majors that preceded the last one of the year.

“I think all of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your mind,” Oosthuizen said. “But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it.”

His latest near miss wasn’t exactly a meltdown, so Oosthuizen can be thankful for that. It wasn’t like last month when he was leading the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines before hitting his tee shot into a canyon on the 17th hole as Jon Rahm was making birdie putts on the last two holes.

But on a day when birdies were plentiful — Morikawa and the two guys right behind him on the leaderboard each shot 66 — Oosthuizen couldn’t summon the kind of golf he has played in the first three rounds of the last three majors.

He had not made a bogey on the front nine at Royal St. George’s until Sunday. He lost the lead to a Morikawa birdie while trying to find his way out of bunkers on the par-5 seventh hole and never came close to the lead again despite playing 1 under the rest of the way.

“The seventh hole was definitely the turning point,” said Morikawa, who at the age of 24 already has two major championship wins. “I’m not sure what happened with his first bunker shot, if he had a tough lie or anything, but just to have that little switch of a two-shot swing kind of got that round started and into another gear in a sense.”

About the only bright spot for the soft-spoken South African was he tied for third with a final-round 71, relieving everyone from reminding him that he would have become only the second player in history to be runner-up in three straight majors. His mentor, Ernie Els, was the other.

Not that it would have mattered all that much to Oosthuizen. This is a guy who enjoys life on his newly purchased ranch in Florida, a guy who posted a hilarious video of himself lip-synching “Rise Up” on an airplane after completing his career runner-up grand slam in 2017 at the PGA Championship.

He never got his due from winning the British Open at St. Andrews in 2010, largely because he’s never won a regular PGA Tour event. But after the huge amounts of TV time he got in his last three majors, he’s now a household name for the wrong reason.

With a few breaks — like Bubba Watson not hitting an insane shot out of the trees to beat him in a Masters playoff — Oosthuizen could easily have a handful of majors by now. He lost another one to Zach Johnson in a three-way playoff at St. Andrews in 2015, but it’s his streak this year that has people taking notice.

For three days he owned this British Open, leading after each round. For three days people were talking about his remarkable play in majors this year.

He came up short yet again. But at least now people know how to pronounce his name.

___

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg@ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

South Korea's Son Heung-min applauds the fans after losing 4-1 during the World Cup round of 16 soc...
Associated Press

South Korea looks to youth after World Cup loss to Brazil

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — South Korea lost in the round of 16 of the World Cup and then lost its coach. The team was beaten by five-time champion Brazil 4-1 on Monday. After the match, South Korea coach Paulo Bento announced that he was stepping down to end his four-year stint. The Portuguese coach said […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Neymar, from right, celebrates with team mates Lucas Paqueta, Raphinha and Vinicius Junior...
Associated Press

Brazil dancing again after big win at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The joy — and the dancing — are back for five-time champion Brazil at the World Cup. The big win over South Korea on Monday secured Brazil a berth in the quarterfinals in Qatar. It also restored the team’s confidence after a tumultuous start to the tournament in which the Seleçao […]
1 day ago
Paulo Dybala runs during a training session of Argentina's national soccer team in Doha, Saturday, ...
Associated Press

Paulo Dybala, the Serie A standout not needed by Argentina

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Paulo Dybala posted a photo of himself on Instagram laughing along with his Argentina teammate Lionel Messi, with the accompanying words: “We carry on with a smile! Let’s go.” Argentina might be getting ever closer to a place in the World Cup final but, on a purely personal level, the tournament […]
1 day ago
Maryland head coach Kevin Willard signals a play in to his team during the second half of an NCAA c...
Associated Press

No. 13 Maryland off to fast start with marquee games ahead

Kevin Willard believed his new Maryland team would get off to a good start. But this has been a bit more than even Willard expected early in his tenure after a successful run at Seton Hall. “I didn’t envision this,” Willard said. “I’m not going to lie.” The Terrapins (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) made the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors holds a sign in the dressing room in Hershey, ...
Associated Press

Analysis: In the NBA, 100 points no longer assures anything

If the NBA has a magic number, it’s 100. Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game scoring record. A perfect shooting percentage. And the rule pretty much seemed to be that if a team scored 100 points in a game, it probably was going to walk off the floor as a winner. Not anymore. Put simply, 100 doesn’t guarantee […]
1 day ago
Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Col...
Associated Press

Deion Sanders’ arrival swipes buzz from bungling Broncos

DENVER (AP) — Deion Sanders sauntered into the Arrow Touchdown Club for what felt more like an old-fashioned tent revival than a news conference to introduce the University of Colorado’s splashy new hire of “Coach Prime” as its new head football coach. At that very moment Sunday afternoon, the Denver Broncos were predictably blowing another […]
1 day ago
Column: Oosthuizen hard to pronounce and hard to finish