Louis on life with and without the Claret Jug

Here’s a transcript of 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen’s media conference ahead of his title defence at Royal St George’s:

LYNN WALLACE: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re joined by defending Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen. Thanks for joining us. How has your year been as Open Champion?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: It’s been great, you know, having the Claret Jug with you for a year was always nice. Golfing-wise it’s been a bit slow after The Open, but hopefully going the right direction now. You know, just really looking forward to this week to defend my title.

Q. Do you think you suffered a bit of an Open hangover in terms of your golf then?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I won’t say that, but yeah, I mean, it’s been slow afterwards. Got the game better the beginning of the season winning Africa Open, and then just went downwards again. Working on the same things as I did last year, and it’s just — you know how the game is; I’m just trying to get it in that same rhythm I had going into The Open last year, and it took longer than I expected. But hopefully I’ll get the groove right this week again.

Q. Can you take us back to this day last year coming into The Open. What were your thoughts? What were your hopes for that week?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I mean, every major you tee off, you just want to try and find the game. You just make good swings, steering you around, and see where it takes you. I mean, I didn’t go in with great form into The Open last year, but found a few things Monday and Tuesday while practising and just played really nicely the whole week, found my rhythm very well and the swing and putted beautifully. You know, you get those weeks where you just find it early in the week.
I felt like a few weeks this year I’ve felt the same way but just didn’t score as well as I did at St. Andrews. I definitely didn’t — probably didn’t feel that confident last year going into The Open, but after the first round I knew that the game was there, it was just a matter of keeping everything together.

Q. Ben Curtis just told us that in 2003 he was in a box room, now he’s in a big house. Is it the same for you?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, the victory has been great for me, everything it’s done. You know, it’s been an unreal experience as The Open champion, and it’s something that I would work to achieve again, to be known as The Open champion for the year. And it’s been a great experience.
You know, just having the Claret Jug with you for a year is enough, but it’s definitely been a great season.

Q. Last year you had this little trick where you had the red mark on your glove to help you focus. Number one, are you still doing it this year? And if not, are you doing anything else similar?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, I think I’ve got myself very good after using the red dot to get myself in that situation where I find — I trigger my mind a lot quicker than I used to. I don’t use it now, but you know, some weeks I feel like I’m wandering out there again and I do use it. I haven’t lately, but you get a few days where you’re struggling just getting into the moment, and you might see it back on the glove.

Q. Graeme McDowell was saying that when he got to his U.S. Open title defence, there was actually a sense of relief that he could almost leave it behind and start to look forward rather than spend the whole year looking back at obviously the greatest moment of his career. Do you kind of empathize with that, and do you have similar sentiments?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I think I do. You know, it’s sad and it’s a relief in the same sentence. You know, it’s always nice, the feeling, an Open Championship. I think it’s a great honour. But from here on out, you’re not The Open champion anymore — well, unless…
But it’s a bit of a relief just getting to the tournament and defending it and just going out and playing. I’m really looking forward to just getting out there and playing and seeing the crowds and everyone again. Open week is always a special week. I think being your first major, that year afterwards is always tough, but hopefully if there’s a second or when there’s a second, it will be better the next year.

Q. Playing the PGA TOUR a lot this year, there’s often been a theory that Americans have it pretty good playing over there, maybe too good, to their own detriment sometimes. Just curious how you’ve viewed that, getting a chance to play there more. Is that sort of the feeling that you get, that things are so good and so nice that maybe it can be too good a thing?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, I’m doing both Tours this year, and it’s tough getting numbers up in America for me. I think I’m only at nine or ten tournaments at the moment.
But I enjoy it. I enjoy it over there. I also enjoy it in Europe. I’ve been on the European Tour for a while, eight years, I think, and it’s always nice playing in Europe. I find the PGA TOUR — I’ve found it really tough for me this season because everything is pretty new. But yeah, definitely I think traveling-wise you get a bit spoiled on the PGA TOUR traveling-wise. For me with a South African passport, I need visas all over the place, and it’s always passport control and all those different things you’ve got to go through week to week.
So I think especially traveling with my family all the time, it is a lot easier over there. But you know, it’s where you feel comfortable playing. I mean, I’m trying both tours to see which direction I go, but I would love to do both every time, but I haven’t found that schedule yet to play proper golf on both tours. I’m still looking for the right schedule.

Q. Are you enjoying the limelight and the fame and the pressure of being a major winner?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I don’t know if “enjoying” is the word. I think it’s just how you handle it. If you’re going to play well, you’re eventually going to be in the spotlight, and it’s part of the package. I don’t mind it, but it’s not a thing that you go out to find, to have to be in the spotlight or to have to be in the limelight. I just take it as it comes, and if I do well and I’m in it, then it’s just another thing I need to be ready for.

Q. You said that you’ve been carrying the Claret Jug around with you most of the year. Give us an insight into the most unusual place you’ve taken it or the most unusual thing you’ve done with it.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I haven’t done anything unusual with it. I think probably the most special thing was to take it to the club that I grew up, the nine-hole sand-and-oil greens, Albertinia Golf Club, took it there, showed it to the members, showed it to my friends, family. I think that was the most special thing to me, having the Claret Jug there at a golf club that’s probably got 42, 43 members which are basically field farmers and a few guys that’s in town, and that’s where I grew up. That was quite a special moment for me.

Q. Speaking of farmers, tractors, et cetera, you obviously played in the John Deere Classic last week, and I’m told took part in sort of an interesting pre-tournament competition. Can you fill us in on that.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it was great fun. You know, it was a big dream of mine going there to the harvest work factory in Moline. I was there on Tuesday morning and went through the whole combine factory, which was amazing, and then I took the big, big — they had all those things to play on. So it was like a big play area for men, I think. I think it was a creche for us. It was great. I had a lot of fun there, and it’s been an amazing week, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Q. Was there an actual competition that you won?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, no, it was just a few excavators and stuff that we just played on, but there was no competition.

Q. Did you take the charter over from the John Deere last night?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, yeah, we arrived here at about 10:30 this morning.

Q. How was all that? Was that a good thing?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it was brilliant. I mean, I think if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t have played it. But it was a seven-and-a-half-hour flight. We left at about 8:30 last night, so we arrived at I think 10:30 or 11:00 this morning, and it was great. The guys were in good spirits on the plane. Steve was also joining us after an amazing last two holes, winning it for the third time in a row, and it was great fun. It was good. It felt like a big team on the plane.

Q. Can you tell us if you’ve changed anything in your equipment makeup this week, anything different to usual?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Different to last year this time or just different?

Q. Just different from normal weeks on Tour, really.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I won’t have my 5-wood in the bag. I’m expecting the wind to blow, so I’ve got like a little hybrid in, and then the rest is pretty much the same, yeah.

Q. You won the biggest tournament and a lot of people don’t pronounce your name properly, does that annoy you at all?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, it’s not an easy surname. You know, it’s probably more annoying when they say, I’ve been practising it for a month and they still get it completely wrong.
No, no, it’s fine. I know it’s not the easiest surname.

Q. What you proved last year is that you are an excellent player in wind, so are you looking at the conditions for this week and hoping it blows again?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I’ve played here two or two-and-a-half months ago, just had a nice round, and it was blowing at probably 50, 60 kilometres an hour, which was not easy going around here. So I expect wind.
But I think you want to play links golf in nice wind, not 60 kilometres an hour, but just a nice breeze. Yeah, I don’t mind it. I feel I can play a lot more shot making around the golf course, and it’s nice to be able to play four or five different type of shots. You know, it’s a fun week for me. I enjoy that type of golf.

Q. You got a lot of help from Ernie Els and the Ernie Els Foundation I know when you were growing up. Can you tell us a little bit about what the actual support, like the financial support, was that helped you when you were younger and what you know about how much government money there may have been involved in that, also?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I’m not sure about the government money involved in the foundation, but I mean, I started with Ernie’s foundation in 1999, and he helped with flights getting to Johannesburg, and before that my dad used to drive me all around South Africa, and I got to play a lot more events. I played Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, all over the place. I played all the amateur events I can. It was just a great thing he did for us, helping with clubs and golf balls, clothing, things like that, and it just took a lot off my family. I was in it for three years until I turned pro, and then it definitely was a great, great foundation to my pro career.

LYNN WALLACE: Louis, thanks for joining us. Good luck this week.

Transcript from ASAP Sports

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