Louis Oosthuizen reveals how he won at St. Andrews
From the Southern Hills locker room, Sunday at the 2022 PGA Championship. This interview appeared in the July/August issue of GOLF.
Dylan Dethier: We’re coming up on 12 years since your Open Championship win at St. Andrews. When you think back, what’s the first thing that pops into your head?
Louis Oosthuizen: I think it’s moments from the full week. The town felt so much different from just a normal Dunhill [European Tour event]. The whole place just has an energy, and the whole town has an incredible vibe to it. If you’re a golf guy and enjoy playing golf and love the history, it has to be on your bucket list to come play St. Andrews and go through the town. It’s just great.
Are there places in town where you’ve spent time? Somewhere you like to eat or drink?
Not specifically. I just like walking around town, then stopping at a coffee shop, stopping to have a pint at a bar, stuff like that. Before we had our kids, we’d do that. It’s just such a nice town. You don’t really need a car. You can just walk around and everything is right there.
Have you always liked playing links golf?
Yeah. Well, what I grew up with was wind golf. I didn’t really start playing links golf for a while. I played on the coast of South Africa, where it’s windy but it’s not links golf. So I was used to playing in wind. And then going over to Europe, I played a lot more links golf and just loved it. I loved all the shotmaking, and it was good fun.
Why do you think you played so well that week in 2010?
If you can drive it well and take on a few tough lines off the tee, that makes the Old Course a lot easier. And I was just driving the golf ball so good that week. Lengthwise, I was quite a bit longer then than now, too, and it just suited my eye.
Is that the key to that golf course — hitting your spots off the tee?
I think so. And I think it favors a cut. With a cut, you can set up better angles for your second shots. I think if you draw the golf ball, those angles get tougher. So I was hitting cuts the whole week, aiming it down the middle of the fairway — there’s normally two fairways together — and I was just sliding it right off that line. It worked out nicely for me.
During the final round, it seemed like your competitors, one by one, got themselves in trouble. And you never did. Is that how you remember it?
Yeah, it was tight up until the 12th hole. I think I was three shots ahead, but that still felt very tight because on that back nine you can lose three shots very quickly. And then, obviously, Paul [Casey] had an errant tee shot on 12 [en route to triple bogey], and I made birdie, which made the lead seven or eight, I think.
You’ve contended in majors so often. What got you across the finish line in this one?
It’s funny, I wasn’t playing that great going into the week. It’s just that everything I was working on came together. I played really well, and I got lucky with the side of the draw as well. On Friday morning when I played, it was rainy and it wasn’t great conditions, but then that wind picked up and blew the whole field away in the afternoon. So I got really lucky with that. And that’s what you need to win. Somewhere along the line you need to get a lucky draw or a lucky bounce or something. I think that draw was a big part of having a lead going into the weekend.
Do you remember feeling particularly nervous at any point or feeling the extra pressure of sleeping on the lead?
No, I really never did. I had my wife and little baby with me, and I just wasn’t really thinking about it. I was too dumb to think about it and too young to realize the situation, and I never really thought that I was going to pull it off. So I was just playing. I just got in my routine, did my stuff, enjoyed playing, and I never really thought, Man, I could win a major. It obviously hit me eventually — when I had a seven-shot lead playing the last five holes. Then I had to collect myself. I wanted to try to make birdies, not just to be defensive. Because then it was mine to lose. That was a different pressure. Those last holes were the hardest, in some ways.
Catch people up. Where do you live and how do you spend your time when we’re not seeing you on Tour?
I live in Ocala, Florida. And oh, I’ve got lots to do when I’m not playing golf. We’ve got a horse ranch and roosters and kids riding horses and all kinds of things. So I keep myself very busy. But I still play lots of social golf. I practice a bit, and I still enjoy my golf quite a lot. Golden Ocala is my club there. I enjoy the social side of golf now a lot more than I used to. And I’m definitely getting to the stage where playing less tournament golf is going to be part of the plan.
What brought you to Ocala in the first place?
Oh, it was the farm. We saw this farm, and it was friends of ours that were selling it, and we fell in love with the massive oak trees. Some of the trees on the farm are 300 years old. Me and my wife both grew up on farms, and we always wanted to have a piece of land over here. And this was the perfect size, and it made sense. So we saw it and bought it, and then we moved up there.
Do you see it as an escape from the busyness of life on Tour?
Oh, yeah. When I get there — I mean, I’m not on any social media and stuff myself. When I get there, I don’t even need to have a phone. So it’s great. It’s a good thing away from golf.
I’ve heard you’re fond of the tractor.
What do you do on the tractor?
Whatever I have to do — mowing grass and doing all kinds of things. It’s good to be on the tractor.