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July 14, 2015

Louis Oosthuizen


THE MODERATOR: Very pleased to welcome Louis Oosthuizen into the interview room. Louis, you enjoyed a fantastic victory here at St. Andrews in the Open in 2010. How does it feel to be back on the site of such a great victory for you.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it's always great being back at St. Andrews. You know, we always have the opportunity coming here in October playing Dunhill Links, but the Open at St. Andrews definitely is different, a different vibe, and just brought back a lot of memories playing 18 holes yesterday, and yeah, it's really good being back.

THE MODERATOR: Obviously coming on the back of a very good performance at the U.S. Open. It must give you a lot of confidence going into this week.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, Chambers Bay was links-style golf, so I enjoy that type of golf, and played a bit yesterday. I like the feel of the golf course. I like the way my game is for the golf course, so you know, looking forward to the week.

Q. What changed your fortunes at Chambers Bay after that opening round?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I don't know really what did it, but I just -- you know, I knew the cut line was going to be pretty high after the first round, and I just tried to just work at -- just try and make the cut on Friday, and hopefully something was going my way. I think it all changed around with the eagle on the 1st when I turned, and played pretty decent from there on in, making the cut. But obviously never thought that I was going to come that close to having a shot at winning the title.

Q. Tiger said he saw you looking at the hole on your putts. He had never seen that from you. Was that something you turned to in search of any kind of answer?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah. We've been -- me and my putting coach has been working a bit on things like that. I tried it for the first time that week, so the first one I did was early in the first round, and I hit the worst putt that you can probably imagine. And then I just kept on doing it because on the putting green it was pretty good. It put my stroke in positions where I wanted it, and I got more and more confident with it, and I just did it on certain putts when on a lot of them I didn't do it, but on a clutch putt which I felt I needed to make, I freed my stroke a bit off by doing that, so yeah, it worked. I did it a lot coming into the last nine holes on Sunday, and it worked. It was something we worked on, so it was great to see it pay off.

Q. When you're standing on the last hole at Chambers Bay and the guy you're playing with hits a shot that kept coming and coming towards the hole, were you thinking about what happened to you at the Masters? It was the same kind of shot, it kept rolling and rolling. Were you thinking about that looking at it?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, the minute it started coming down from the right, me and my caddie knew that it was going to be close, and you could see the crowd's reaction that it's going to be really close, and I was looking at this, and I was thinking, wow, this can actually go in. So yeah, he hit a great shot. A bit jealous that I needed that. At the bunker there I couldn't really do anything, just had to lay up, but it was great to see him hit that shot at that moment.

Q. You've obviously had your fitness challenges over the past few years. Have you put those behind you, or are you managing them at the moment?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I'm managing very well. I mean, I'm feeling 100 times better than what I was the last two years and working on things constantly to get stronger and get better. You know, all in all I'm happy where I am. I feel confident playing, so I could actually do a bit more work on the putting green and out on the range, which you need to to be on top of your game.

Q. Are you sticking with the putting style? Will you be using that this week? And could you just give us a run-down on what the injury problems have been?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, the putting bit, like I say, if there's a few putts that I feel more comfortable just looking at the hole maybe to, I'll do that. But it's not a set thing on every putt. It's a feel thing, really. On a few putts I'll do that and on other putts I won't. It's just a thing that I need to -- I'll do as it comes. The injury bit, yeah, I don't know where to start. There was loads. But yeah, it was mostly lower-back troubles, and I sorted that out pretty good. My lower back feels really good. After doing everything with my lower back, my neck started giving me some trouble. You know, it was a few old injuries coming back, and back in 2005 I had an injury behind a boat on a tube with a whiplash injury in my neck, and that started to come back because I didn't treat it well back then. But yeah, I'm managing well and I'm getting stronger every week, so I'm happy where I am now.

Q. Given what you achieved here five years ago, when you stand at the 1st on Thursday, in your own mind will you be ahead of so many more in the field by the fact that you're a winner here already?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No. I think for myself it would just -- it will give me the confidence knowing what I've done here and that I can play this golf course. But you still need to go out and play a good score, play good golf around this track. I mean, if you're not going to be driving the ball well, you're going to find a few pot bunkers and you're going to make mistakes. You're going to make bogeys. A lot has got to do with the weather, as well. If we're going to have really good weather, then scoring is going to be low. But for myself, I'll feel very confident going into the week, and I just need to hit the shots I want to off the tee so I put myself in good positions. But a lot of great guys out there that I know are going to play well around this golf course.

Q. Have you looked to keep things the same preparation-wise as they were in 2010? Have you been repeating things that you did when you were here?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I can't really remember what I did in 2010, preparing up to the event. No, just basically do what you do every week, really. The only thing here, you rather want to be on the golf course playing a lot than standing on the range. You find yourself in all kinds of different spots to see how you're going to play the shots, a lot of shot-making around this golf course, which is a lot of fun, and I like that style.

Q. Slightly similar question, but have you done anything in the buildup this week to relive the happy memories from five years ago, be it on the course or in the town, be it restaurants or particular spots or anything like that to relive what happened five years ago?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, not really. I'm here with my family so we're having a good time. My wife loves this town and my kids are having a great time. I'm just taking it very -- just being here, all the memories comes back to me, just driving into St. Andrews on Saturday and just seeing everyone on the golf course Saturday, late Saturday afternoon. So it's just great to be back here. The biggest was I think Monday walking down 18, seeing the grandstands and remembering that moment walking in 2010 on Sunday afternoon. I played with Branden, whose caddie Zach was working for me then, and the two of us looked at each other, smiled, and said, it was great to just do that walk again and feel that bit of magic around here.

Q. And in terms of the four rounds of golf you played that week, which were sensational, in the five years since, have you -- what's the closest you've come to that? Have you kind of touched those heights again and do you feel you're capable of doing that again this week?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I think 2012 to me was a good season. I played really well at Augusta. I played well all over the world in a few events. I lost in two playoffs that year. I felt I got myself in a really good place, and then obviously early 2013 the injuries started and set me back quite a bit. I think I had a bit of a glimpse of that on the last three rounds at Chambers Bay, and that really got me motivated to this week. But again, you know, this week I just want to come here and play, and it's a place I love. I'm very excited starting on Thursday just to be able to play an Open at St. Andrews. Golfing-wise, you've got to take every day as it is. If it's really tough conditions, you've got to be careful what you do. Don't be too aggressive. But yeah, it's just going to be a lot of fun.

Q. I think you're the first golfer I've ever heard say I picked up a whiplash injury in a rubber ring off the back of the boat. Could you give us a bit more detail on that, where it happened? I'm assuming it wasn't off the coast of St. Andrews?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, it was a long time. We go back in South Africa just on a river behind -- I was on a big tube and just went over a wake and got a proper tug from the boat and got a whiplash in my neck and was out for I think back then three or four months, couldn't play anything, and just didn't really do the proper work to look after the injury. But yeah, that was also a long time ago.

Q. Do you look at Rory McIlroy's injury now then, because you golfers tend to do pretty adventurous things and you like to do quite a lot away from the course and he needs to sort of take good care of that ankle because if he didn't do the proper work it can set you back a lot more than you might think?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, you know, rehab is the most important thing after any injury. Rory will be fine. I'm sure he'll take care of that injury pretty good. I came back in 2010, I tore my ankle ligaments on the left ankle and I came back probably too soon, so that put me back a few months more. But yeah, it's something you and your team need to take care of just to make sure that whenever you're back, you're fully fit. But a lot of times you're very anxious to come back a bit earlier to get back to it. You miss being part of the action, you miss playing in tournaments, and sometimes that can be costly.

Q. With the experience that you've gained around here, and we had Tiger in here a short time ago talking about playing in different winds on this course has really helped him over the years, how much of an advantage do you feel you'll have over Jordan this week because he's coming in playing off the back of John Deere and he's never played a professional tournament here and also the expectation that surrounds him this week?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, he's been doing pretty well with all the pressure that's on him, so I don't think that's going to be a factor. I think he's probably just as excited starting this week and then playing St. Andrews. But yeah, I mean, it's a golf course where you can have four, five, six different wind directions. You can have two, three different wind directions in one day. I've played it before where I would go out, play the front nine into the wind and it turns on me on 11 and I play the back nine into the wind. You need to -- I think you need to know where the dangers are with certain type of winds. But you know, the form that he's on now, I think he's still the guy that everyone will be chasing.

Q. Just wondering what your thoughts are on being paired with Tiger again for a second major in a row and just everything that goes with him.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I hope we have a better first round. (Laughter.) Hopefully we can pull each other in the right direction this time. Yeah, I always enjoy playing with him, so should be fun. He's won twice around here. I want to see the way he plays this golf course. It's going to be good. Just hopefully we make a few more birdies the first round than we did at Chambers.

Q. Your strategy when you won here last time, what was it and how will it differ, if at all, this time around?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I'm not going to give my strategy away, come on. No, I like -- this is to me a golf course where I can aim quite a bit left and hit a little slide off the tee, which I really enjoy just a little cut with my driver and take the right side of the golf course out of play, and I feel if you can drive it well the whole week you're going to put yourself in play almost every hole, and then you're going to -- the key thing is you're going to have long birdie putts around this golf course, and you're going to have to make those 30-footers around here, a lot of pins that's probably going to be the closest you can get to in some conditions. But yeah, I think hitting -- driving it well around this golf course is key. It's a lot of drivers for me, so you know, I'm going to stick to what I've done the last five years here, every time I've played the Dunhill, as well, and see if I can do the same I did five years ago.

Q. When you were here five years ago, nobody really knew who you were, especially through 36 holes, they were like, well, Louis will probably fall away and someone else will come up. After winning here, how much did that change your perspective on you in professional golf and what you could do?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, you know, that's a lot of times nice that people don't know you because everyone expects you to not do well on the weekend like in 2010. But again, it was a type of golf that I embrace. I like this -- I like the golf course. I like the links-style golf. I like playing in wind. I was looking forward to the weekend then. Again, a few weeks, three, four weeks ago at Chambers, I needed to prove to myself to get in that situation of trying to win a major again, and the back nine to me was so much fun. Obviously I was making putts from everywhere and I made a wedge, holed a wedge from the one hole. I just needed to prove to myself that when I get in that situation again that I can handle it and I can still hit good shots. You know, I wasn't nervous coming down the end there. I was excited on every shot. I like to be in that situation. I think everyone does. Everyone is trying to play to be on the back nine on Sunday and try to have a chance to win a major, and that's really when you see how you're going to react in that situation when you're actually in it.

Q. You're set, I think, to play with Ernie, a practice round today. Given what he's meant to your career, your start in golf, does it ever get old playing with him, and how has your relationship with him evolved over the years?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I mean, we're good friends. I still look up to Ernie a hell of a lot. I mean, we're playing this afternoon, me, him, George and Branden, so it'll be a fun game. But I mean, what can you say about Ernie; he's won four majors. He's won how many tournaments worldwide. I always love seeing him play the way he goes around the golf course, and you know, he loves playing links golf, as well. It'll be great seeing him this afternoon, how he goes around this golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Louis, thank you for joining us this morning, and best of luck this week.
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