Oosthuizen: Will Alfred Dunhill be first step on journey to No. 1?

Louis Oosthuizen comes into the Alfred Dunhill Championship which gets underway in Thursday at Leopard Creek Country Club with dreams of becoming world number one.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion – and narrow runner-up in the Masters this year – has climbed to a career-high fifth on the Official World Golf Rankings, and, while he’s not naïve enough to think Rory McIlroy is going to slow down, he believes he has what it takes to get himself to the top of the pile.

“Rory’s probably going to win another two or three majors in the next few years, and that’s just going to put his world ranking up and up,” said Oosthuizen. “It’s going to have to be a really great year for one of us, and a not-so-great year for him in order for us to get close. But there’s always a chance.”

That chance can come because he has been so consistent: “I gave myself chances almost every week. My consistency is something I’ve been working on for a while, just to be able to play half-decent even when I’m struggling.”

And the idea of reaching number one is one he has allowed himself to dream of. “I always try and set goals, but not unreachable ones,” he said. “I think at the moment, where Rory is now, it’s going to be one hell of a task, but I think, in a few years’ time, if I give myself a bit of time, I’ve got a chance.”

For Oosthuizen, those few years can start in an event which will close out a year in which he came so close to adding a Masters Green Jacket to the Open’s Claret Jug. “It’s been a good season,” he said. “It would have been great if I could have pulled it off at Augusta. I’m happy with the season, but there’s been a few at the end which were close, and not winning those has been disappointing.”

And at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, he’s keenly aware of the form of his friend Charl Schwartzel as an obstacle to be overcome if he’s to start the pursuit of the top spot in the world.

“This week it’s going to be a big task to beat Charl. The way he played last week, I watched that golf,” said Oosthuizen. “And to come back to probably his favourite golf course, he’s found what he’s been missing for the last few months after the setback with injuries.

“He played beautifully at the SA Open, at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai as well. I felt so great for him last week when he got that win, because he’s been working hard to get his game back. So this week we’ve got our hands full.”

Other than Schwartzel, his frustrating recent inability to sink putts is a hurdle he must overcome if he is to chase down McIlroy. “Every week there is something on the greens I’m struggling with,” he said. “Not finding the speed, not finding the line, but I still feel like I’m hitting good putts. I always know that the week when I’m hitting it well is going to be a good week for me, but it’s difficult to go into a week and know that you’re going to putt well.”

The Alfred Dunhill Championship can get him on track: “I think it’s going to be a very big task, but at the moment the goal is to get to number two and then see what I can do from there,” he said.

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