South African duo gearing up for the U.S. challenge
June 02, 2015
By Kenneth Quillinan, Special to presidentscup.com, PGATOUR.COM
- June 02, 2015
It goes without saying that Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel will play an integral role at The Presidents Cup in South Korea later this year. They both possess a vast amount of experience and have proven in the past that they can excel in high pressure situations. Oosthuizen stormed to a seven-stroke victory over Lee Westwood in the 2010 Open Championship, while Schwartzel added to South Africa’s Major tally at the Masters Tournament a year later, overcoming the challenge of his fellow International Team members Jason Day and Adam Scott. The South African duo have enjoyed very similar careers to date, with both notching up 12 professional wins, including one major title each, and currently there are just 11 spots between the two in the world rankings: Oosthuizen (31) holds the edge over Schwartzel (42). One thing is for sure, they have no intentions in teaming up for a haircut again before this year’s competition! They both shared their thoughts in a recent interview:
Louis, you have competed in Korea before at the 2013 Ballantine’s Championship. What are your memories from that tournament (apart from the 500-yard drive!) and your impression of Korea?
Oosthuizen: That’s the thing everyone remembers, and it was a great moment. I felt I should have putted a bit better that week, but I enjoyed the tournament a lot. I loved my time in Korea, and I’m looking forward to going back.
Charl, have you ever been to Korea?
Schwartzel: No, I’ve not been to Korea before. Louis played in a European Tour event there before and said the course was great. The guys keep saying its cold!
What is it going to take to beat the U.S. Team this time around?
Oosthuizen: They have so many quality players that we know we’ll have to be at our best to beat them, but our team will also be full of very good players, so we’ll believe we have the same chance as they have.
Schwartzel: Errrm…to have more points than them! It’s as simple as that.
With the possibility of up to six South Africans on this year’s team, how encouraging is this for golf in your home country?
Oosthuizen: It’s a great sign about the strength of the game at home. For quite a few years now we’ve had a crop of players that regularly competes around the world, so it’s not a surprise, but it’s still something to be proud of.
Schwartzel: I think it’s huge. South Africa is a small country, and if it were to happen like that, it would be very special. It would demonstrate how strong South African golf is, and I’m sure it would inspire more young people to pick up a club.
Louis, did you ever get your revenge on Charl for his lovely ‘Larry’ golf bag gift?
Oosthuizen: Not yet but revenge is a dish best served cold!
Charl, so Louis hasn’t returned the favor for your lovely ‘Larry’ golf bag gift?
Schwartzel: Hahaha no not yet, but he always has some trick’s up his sleeve! He’s done a lot more stuff to me so I owe him a few more pranks!
Do you hope to be paired together again?
Oosthuizen: Yes, we’ve played together since our early days in junior golf, so it would be great to tee up with Charl again.
Schwartzel: I think it will be good if we get paired up again. I think I could probably play with anyone, but if you play with the same guy, it builds camaraderie, you understand the nuances of your partner’s game and you know when a guy is comfortable and not comfortable - his likes and dislikes. It does help that we know each other so well, so it makes for quite an obvious pairing, but at the end of the day it’s up to the captain.
It’s pretty amazing that both of you have exactly 12 professional wins, but have only one each on the PGA TOUR and they are both major titles. Are you waiting for the other to win again on tour to follow suit?
Oosthuizen: If that was how it worked, then yes of course! I’m always pleased when Charl has success – like I’m sure he is when I do – but that’s not something I think about to be honest.
Schwartzel: I suppose, but that is just a coincidence. We’re both still very young in our careers. Hopefully our next is just around the corner!
What are your goals for the rest of 2015?
Oosthuizen: No major goals. I just want to keep playing good golf and put myself in good positions. I’m really looking forward to going back to St Andrews, as well. It should be a good year.
Schwartzel: I suppose my goals are based around winning, and obviously I still only have one on the PGA TOUR, but if I stay consistent week in week out, I will start to get myself into contention and I know I can win when put in that situation.
Louis, what has been your greatest ever shot? The double eagle?
Oosthuizen: At Augusta? It doesn’t get much better than that does it??
Schwartzel: Under the circumstances, I think the 9-iron I hit on the 17th at Augusta on the final day. The shot itself wasn’t exceptionally tough, but everything on the line made it my greatest.
Louis, that 57…will it ever be beaten? Have you come close on any occasion?
Oosthuizen: No, I don’t think so and no can’t see that happening anytime soon to be honest!
And Charl, what was your greatest ever round of golf as a pro?
Schwartzel: Greatest ever round…hmmm I’ve shot lower scores before but I did think that the final round at Augusta was one of the best rounds I’ve played under the circumstances.
We are all well aware that Ernie Els and Gary Player are the legends of South African golf, but which other golfer (not necessarily a South African one and you are already included!) would you add to make up a four ball?
Oosthuizen: Ben Hogan.
Schwartzel: Is it OK to add Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus? Now that would be something pretty cool!
Can you sum up Jordan Spieth’s performance at The Masters?
Oosthuizen: Simply put, it was awesome.
Schwartzel: Well, it was phenomenal. To win the Masters is amazing, but I do think that was the easiest the golf course has played in the past couple of years…but that still doesn’t take away from how he played. He looked so comfortable and led from day one to the final day; that takes something special. The guy played pretty awesome golf!
How was your previous Presidents Cup experience under Nick Price’s leadership? Do you feel you will be better prepared mentally this time around?
Oosthuizen: I know we finished on the losing side, but I really enjoyed the experience. I didn’t think there was a lot wrong with our preparation last time, but of course we’ll be trying to do everything that little bit better this time around.
Schwartzel: I don’t think it will be any different to be honest, as I know him really well and I’m very comfortable around him.
Any plans to team up for another haircut before this year’s competition?
Oosthuizen: After last time, it’s not something that’s been mentioned. If we do, I won’t be going first this time!
Schwartzel: Ah ha ha, who knows…I think maybe this time around we’ll just put some wigs on and leave the haircuts!
If you could steal one part of each other’s game, which would it be?
Oosthuizen: I wouldn’t steal a thing. I’m happy with my own game, but that’s not to take anything away from Charl. It’s pretty obvious that he is a phenomenal player.
Schwartzel: I suppose I would like his iron play…
You were both promising tennis players when you were younger; do you still play? And who gets the upper hand when you play against each other?
Oosthuizen: Unfortunately, there’s no time for that, but we’ve had some great games in the past.
Schwartzel: I’ve got to admit it… I think Louis has the edge!
What message do you have for the Korean fans?
Oosthuizen: I’d like to wish all of the Korean fans well. I’ve always had a great welcome there and have found the people to be very hospitable. Hopefully they will see a great contest and some excellent golf.
Schwartzel: It would be great to see a lot of the Koreans come out to support the International team; we are going to need it if we are going to try and beat a strong American side.
What message do you have for the U.S. Team that will no doubt arrive in Korea full of confidence?
Oosthuizen: Watch out this time!
Schwartzel: Beware of the underdogs!
Finally, KJ Choi has suggested that for a team bonding session prior to The Presidents Cup, a visit to a karaoke room is a possibility. If this happens, what song would you choose to sing?
Oosthuizen: I think I would be happy just to mime to be honest…
Schwartzel: Ermmm, no I’ll pass on this one! Ok…maybe something to get the team going. Put me down for some ACDC!