Oosthuizen seeks form in Scotland

No-one has ever gone on to win the Open Championship after winning the Scottish Open, but Louis Oosthuizen is one of 13 South Africans who will try to win in Inverness this week and go on to win at Royal Lytham and St Annes the following week.

Three South Africans have won the Scottish Open – Ernie Els twice in 2000 and 2003, Retief Goosen in 2001 and Tim Clark in 2005 – and only Els has subsequently gone on to win the Open when he won at Muirfield in 2002.

Oosthuizen, of course, is the last South African to win a major after he took the Open Championship by a stunning seven strokes at St Andrews in 2010, and, although his game has not appeared to be in any great shape since his superb run at the Masters and his victory in the Malaysian Open in April, he has been working on things and will be hoping to get into the kind of shape which saw him so dominant in 2010.

And with the event on the Castle Stuart Golf Links at Inverness, the Scottish Open can provide a bracing examination ahead of the Open – last year, the event was hit by wind and rain as Luke Donald won in a 54-hole championship.

Needless to say, Donald didn’t win the Open the next week – Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug in his first major victory – but the desire to perform well in Scotland ahead of the Open is a powerful incentive.

Even Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut on the US PGA Tour last weekend, and has not been playing well, has cast aside his notorious dislike of playing outside the US, and asked for a sponsor’s invitation for the Scottish Open in an attempt to get into some sort of form ahead of the Open.

Oosthuizen is joined in the field by Els and Branden Grace, a three-time winner on the European Tour this year. Grace’s achievement is given some perspective by the fact that Tiger Woods has matched it with three victories on the PGA Tour and is the only other three-time winner in the world this year.

Jbe’ Kruger is one of two other South Africans in the field who have won on the European Tour this year. The other is Darren Fichardt, while Thomas Aiken was a winner in 2011.

But for a poor final round last weekend, George Coetzee might have joined the winners’ list in the French Open, and he is in the kind of form which could see him get into a great position to do well in the Open.

Jaco van Zyl, James Kingston, Keith Horne, Tjaart van der Walt, Alex Haindl and Warren Abery make up the South African numbers in the field which tees off on Thursday – but none of them are in the Open.

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