The festive break puts the players at this year’s Volvo Golf Champions on equal footing – none of the 36 elite European Tour players know exactly what kind of form they are in, and that includes defending champion Louis Oosthuizen.
“I didn’t really practice much for this week, but I think no one did. It’s a big week and hopefully we can find the game tomorrow,” he said.
The 2010 Open Champion shot 66 on Sunday at Durban Country Club last year, pipping Scott Jamieson by one shot before lifting his sixth European Tour trophy. The weather conditions are different this year, but the world number 34 has a strong affinity for the course.
Added to Oosthuizen’s past success is his strong form at the beginning of every season. Aside from his Claret Jug the latest in the season that he lifted a trophy was at the Maybank Malaysian Open in April of 2012.
The real surprise is his three wins at the start of the last three years. In 2011 he won the Africa Open and in 2012 successfully defended the title. His 2013 win at the Volvo ‘tournament of champions’ marked the third time he came off the festive break with a victory.
“There are good memories here, so hopefully I can have the same start this week,” he said.
Clearly the relaxed atmosphere of the new year makes Oosthuizen play his best golf, and that will play a crucial factor as he looks to defend his title this week. With no cut and five hole-in-one prizes it’s certainly an exciting week for the 31-year-old, who won an excavator in Durban last year.
King Louis battled with back injury throughout 2013 and received cortisone injections last November. Pain free and ready to defend a tournament with an upped prize fund of $4-million, he looked ahead to a week on home soil.
“It’s getting there slowly and at least I’m managing and I can play, and I don’t have any pain playing. I’m pretty similar in schedule and I’ll take it week by week,” he said.
That soil has seen Oosthuizen go as deep as eight-under in one round, which happened on the Friday last year. His winning total of 16-under-par was just enough, but with much sunnier conditions this year it is expected that the scoring will be even lower.
“You don’t have to attack it and you’re only going to have a few long irons into the greens. There are still a lot of birdies out there and if you want to take it on you can really score well. It’s a tight golf course, you need to really hit it straight,” he said.