Why Louis can tame East Lake

Louis Oostuizen goes into the US PGA Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club this week needing a win if he is to have a realistic chance of winning the season-ending FedEx Cup.

The parameters are such that a second place finish might also get him over the line if a series of other golfers finish down the order. But Oosthuizen, who will be making his first appearance at the event, will without a doubt be targeting nothing less than victory in pursuit of a major financial windfall – along with avenging his disappointment of narrowly missing out on the green jacket earlier this year when Bubba Watson‘s miracle shot denied him victory at Augusta National.

The man from Mossel Bay made up for the Masters to a degree by winning the Maybank Malaysia Open the very next week, and his second place finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship three weeks ago showed that the Masters has in no way derailed his season. But a win this week will put the icing on the cake and firmly put the matter to bed.

And when one analyses his game and its compatibility with the par-70 East Lake layout, it’s hard to see any reason why he can’t come out on top.

East Lake has undergone numerous changes over the years, most notably the change from bentgrass to Bermuda before the 2008 edition of the tournament. The greens have become significantly quicker as a result, often running above 12 on the stimpmeter. Since 2008, putting averages have risen significantly, and ranged between 1.773 and 1.791. Putting is thus going to be as crucial as ever, and this is further reinforced by the fact that three of the last four champions have led their field in putting.

Oosthuizen sits in the unflattering position of 65th in strokes gained putting averages on the PGA Tour, but this is a statistic dramatically skewed by his high greens in regulation percentage, in which he sits sixth. More significant on this front is the recent form Oosthuizen has shown with the putter, especially at the Deutsche Bank Championship’s TPC Boston.

Moreover, all four winners since 2008 have finished inside the top 11 for greens in regulation, something that plays right into Oosthuizen’s hands. With the weather forecast set fair in the coming days, the course may even dry out. Firmer greens would put a premium on accurate approach shots, and Oosthuizen certainly seems to fit the bill.

But perhaps the most telling statistic of all is that of the Atlanta course’s difficulty off the tee. In three of the last four years, it has ranked inside the top 10 for lowest fairways hit averages, with last year’s average of 52.86 percent being the seventh lowest of 49 courses measured. With the smooth swinging South African’s well documented accuracy with driver in hand, coupled with him sitting 25th in driving distance, you’d surely put your house on him being right in the mix.

One final statistic that might have its say is that Louis sits eighth on the PGA Tour in adjusted scoring, surely a great indicator of his all-round game and his ability to adapt to any golf course. Oosthuizen may not have prior experience at this golf course to call on, but with his form on the up and his game tailored to this golf course, he’s got as good a chance as any this week. And while the bookies have the high-flying Rory McIlroy as the overwhelming favourite to claim the coveted 10 million dollar FedEx Cup prize money, don’t be too surprised if Oosthuizen pulls one over him.

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