There was a glimpse of it for Louis Oosthuizen in the final three rounds of the US Open when he finished second to Jordan Spieth, and that has got him right up and ready for the 144th Open Championship which gets underway on Thursday.
The 2010 champion who triumphed so emphatically at the Old Course has had a lean time of it in recent years with the after-effects of a neck injury, but his superlative performance at the difficult Chambers Bay layout last month had rekindled the hunger for more major championships.
“I think 2012 was a good season,” he said ahead of the third major of the 2015 season. “I played really well at Augusta. I played well all over the world in a few events. I lost in two playoffs that year. I felt I got myself in a really good place, and then in early 2013 the injuries started and set me back quite a bit.
“I think I had a bit of a glimpse of that 2012 form on the last three rounds at Chambers Bay, and that really got me motivated to this week. But again, you know, this week I just want to come here and play, and it’s a place I love.”
He is even more laid back ahead of the tournament this year than he was in 2010, if that is possible. With his family in tow, he talks of embracing St Andrews as much as anyone who has won The Open at the Old Course always does” “All the memories come back to me, just driving into St Andrews on Saturday and seeing everyone on the golf course. So it’s just great to be back here.
“The biggest moment for me was on Monday walking down 18, seeing the grandstands and remembering that moment walking in 2010 on Sunday afternoon. I played with Branden Grace on Monday, and his caddie Zack Rasego was working for me then, and the two of us looked at each other, smiled, and said it was great to just do that walk again and feel that bit of magic around here.”
With those kinds of memories, it is no surprise that clicking into gear in the US Open has stoked the flame for him. “At Chambers, I needed to prove to myself that I could get in that situation of trying to win a major again, and the back nine to me was so much fun,” he said.
“I was making putts from everywhere and I holed a wedge on one hole. I just needed to prove to myself that when I get in that situation again that I could handle it and still hit good shots. You know, I wasn’t nervous coming down to the end there. I was excited on every shot. I like to be in that situation.”
Of course, there are others in the field who like to be in that situation. It won’t be plain sailing as he faces the rise of the likes of Spieth and Ricky Fowler, to say nothing of the grizzled veterans like Ernie Els who would be able to draw on experience to deal with whatever the golfing gods throw at St Andrews over the course of the week.
But one thing is certain. Oosthuizen is back. “I’m going to stick to what I’ve done for the last five years here, every time I’ve played the Old Course, as well, and see if I can do the same I did five years ago,” he said.