HeÂs had to endure constant jibes about his ability since he won the 2010 Open Championship, so Louis Oosthuizen is probably relieved that he has rediscovered some form ahead of this weekÂs Frys.com Open on the US PGA Tour.
Of course, much of the criticism came from people who battled to pronounce his name and had difficulty in comprehending the magnitude of his seven-stroke margin of victory. They also didnÂt know much about how dominating he could be when he got on a roll, as his 14-stroke margin in the 2008 Telkom PGA Championship amply demonstrated.
And it took a random comment in a Geoff Ogilvy interview when the cerebral Australian said he thought Â if you stripped scores out of the equation Â that Oosthuizen is the best golfer in the world to restore a sense of balance to what were clearly premature obituaries to the South AfricanÂs major career.
ÂI think Louis is the best golfer in the world, but he just doesn’t shoot the scores,Â said Ogilvy last month. ÂThe way he swings and the way he chips, I just love watching his game.
ÂYou guys (reporters) probably think thatÂs a ridiculous statement, but he just makes golf look too easy to me,Â added Ogilvy.
OosthuizenÂs fifth-place finish in last weekÂs Alfred Dunhill Links Championship seems to have signalled a turnaround in his fortunes: After he won the Africa Open in January at East London in January, he was erratic in his debut season on the US PGA Tour where he had five missed cuts and just one top 10 in 13 starts Â a tie for ninth at the US Open.
So his return to the US stage will be significant if he is able to enhance his reputation with a good performance.
He is drawn with Tiger Woods and the worldÂs top-ranked amateur, Patrick Cantlay, in the first two rounds Â and the glare of publicity which will accompany that game is something of a mixed blessing.
It will be bad for Oosthuizen because part of the problem for first-time major winners is having to deal with the attendant media attention. But heÂs had a year of it and his novelty is starting to wear off for the media.
And it will be good for Oosthuizen because the spotlight will be firmly on Woods as he returns to tournament play after his latest injury layoff and he begins his build-up to the Presidents Cup after his controversial inclusion in the US team for the November date in Australia.
Oosthuizen wonÂt be the only South African trying to make his US season more memorable: Ernie Els has never gone an entire season on the tour without a top 10, but thatÂs what heÂs facing this year. Els had an impressive run in the FedExCupPlayoffs, finishing T16 and T30 in the first two events to advance to the BMW Championship.
And Trevor Immelman fired four rounds in the 60s last week at the JT Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, so his game is coming around. HeÂs been off the radar for so long since his 2008 Masters win with injury and health issues, but his 2011 play has shown he is too talented not to rebound soon.
Rory Sabbatini is the other South African in the field, and he had a great start to the year with a victory in the Honda Classic in March, and he will want to finish off solidly too.