Oosthuizen backs South Africans at Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
27 Jan 2016 - 0:59
Doha: Louis Oosthuizen believes there’s a good chance of a fifth South African winner of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, to follow in the footsteps of defending champion Branden Grace, Retief Goosen (2007), Ernie Els (2005) and Darren Fichardt (2003).
Oosthuizen, 33, is expected to be among the top contenders at Doha Golf Club as the seven-time European Tour winner looks to win his opening event of the calendar year for a fifth time, having achieved the feat four times in a row from 2011 through 2014. “I’m ready to start the season. I like the golf course and I like playing in windy conditions. The ‘desert swing’ was a stretch that I always started my season with when I was fully playing on The European Tour, so I always love coming back here,” said Oosthuizen, who was runner-up in 2009.
“Last week I had a good practice back in Florida, so I’m feeling good. I’ve got a lot of new clubs in the bag which I tested last week, so it’s my first week out with them. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Best known for winning the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen came close to securing a second Major last year when he finished runner-up in both the US Open and The Open.
In October, he formed a winning partnership with Grace in October’s Presidents Cup in Korea, where the South African pair won all four of their matches together, although the Internationals narrowly lost to the USA. Oosthuizen believes the 27-year-old Grace could make history this week as the first person to retain his title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and also flagged up young compatriots Haydn Porteous and Brandon Stone, who each won their first European Tour title earlier this month.
“Branden [Grace] loves playing in windy conditions. He grew up with it. We grew up close to each other back in SA and he obviously likes this golf course, so I’ll never write him off,” Oosthuizen said.
“We also have two young South African winners on the European Tour this season, Haydn [Porteous] and Brandon [Stone], which is great to see.”
Today and tomorrow, Oosthuizen will play in one of the tournament’s star-studded groups with four-time Major winner Els, his long-term friend and mentor, and Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee.
Sergio Garcia, the 2014 champion, and Grace are the two highest-ranked players in the field and will play their first two rounds together with rising English star Matt Fitzpatrick.
An 11-time European Tour winner, Garcia is also a seven-time Ryder Cup representative and believes Fitzpatrick, just 21, could be among “three to five” debutants in Europe’s Ryder Cup team this year.