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January 26, 2016

Louis Oosthuizen

Doha, Qatar

NEIL AHERN: Louis, first event of the year. How is your game feeling heading into 2016?

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I had a good week last week, good practise back at Florida. So I'm feeling good this week. I've got a lot of new clubs in the bag which I'm testing, or which I tested last week, so first week out with them. But yeah, feels good, so ready to start the season.

NEIL AHERN: You had two runner-up finishes in majors last year. I'm sure you've been assessing your goals over winter, but is the main goal to putt that right, another major championship?

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I would love to. Obviously trying to get the game ready for four majors, Augusta is the first one, to get your game really sharp for that week.

Yeah, I think it's a bonus if you get to a major week and your game is on top form. That's what everyone tries to get to, and the really top guys do it every week that they get their game sharp for big events. So still need to get myself to that level. I feel the biggest thing for me is still consistency, but I'm moving in the right direction.

NEIL AHERN: You've been on the course today, obviously big winds. How is the course looking at the moment?

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Course looks great. I haven't seen the rough like that before but it's really in great nick. The greens are running nicely. Obviously they can't cut them down because of the wind speed.

It's going to be very interesting to see pin positions and things with the way the forecast looks like, but it was windy this morning. The course is playing tough. You need to hit the fairways, otherwise it gets really tricky out there.

Q. Can you talk about your partners for the first two rounds; you're playing with Ernie Els and also Thongchai. Can you talk about your history and if you've played much with Thongchai, as well?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, Thongchai, we were together last year in The Presidents Cup team, and I know him really well. He's always nice to play with, and obviously it's great playing with Ernie. It's always nice playing with him. I haven't played with him in a tournament for awhile, so they are good fun. I think there will be a few Afrikaans words going around between the two of us and yeah, should be good fun.

Q. Apart from growing the whiskers, what have you been doing over the break?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Not much. Not playing golf (laughs).

Q. Anything special?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: What I do every year. We did a 4 X 4 trip in the desert, Namib Desert, about a 12-day trip. So yeah, it's the highlight of the family's holiday. A lot of friends and family that went together and it was good fun. Where no cell phone can be used; you're in the middle of nowhere. Only satellite phone works, so it's perfect. A lot of fun and good quality time with the family.

Q. On a side note, how long are the whiskers staying on for?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I actually trimmed it. I had a photo shoot last week and I said, growing too long for this. I don't know, I think if I get a trophy early on in the year, then I'll probably shave it then.

Q. On a serious note, do you come into the new season with any sort of resolution? Do you set yourself any resolutions going into the new season?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, you know what -- I just want to -- I'm always working on improving some parts of my game. This year I want to get more in contention in a lot more tournaments. I felt like I've made a big step in the last year in the right direction with my body getting everything sorted.

I think now, it's get down to the golf and do more work. I had a taste of a second major last year, and that really got me hungry to win a few more.

Q. Golf is all set for the Olympics. Yesterday Branden spoke about how excited he is. As a fellow South African, what are your thoughts?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, to represent your country is obviously one of the biggest honours that you can have. I'm really looking forward to it. I think sort of not really knowing what to expect, as well, from it makes it more exciting. So you know, it's going to be different putting it in your schedule but I think it's something everyone looks forward to.

Q. I think you've won the first event of your year four of the last five years. What is it that makes it so you can come out and compete right away?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well rested I'd guess (laughter). Yeah, I don't know, I think it is probably well rested. I didn't touch golf clubs since Nedbank up until last week. Then the first round was very shaky, didn't make a birdie I think, if I can remember. But then sort of picked up quickly.

Sort of after a good break, you want to go back out on the golf course again. You want to play, and I think a lot of times with the schedules we have these days, you lose that a bit, to be hungry again just to go out and play. Doesn't matter what you shoot.

I got a bit of that back again after a big break. So I think that well rested is probably the best word.

Q. I think most of the guys last week were asked the question, going back to the Olympics, Olympic Gold or major. What would your view on that be?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Major championship. To me that's -- the history is there, all the major champions before. Claret Jug still being your No. 1 trophy in golf. So I don't think to me there's ever anything that would change that.

Q. We were talking last week about the big three in golf, Rickie won last week, so now the Big Four. What's the sort of enthusiasm and sort of incentive now with the young guys in their 20s on top of the World Rankings, for the more mature players?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: We need to work harder and try and catch up with them.

No, it's great for the game. It's great to see it so young. You have two young winners already this season with the two South African boys, Haydn and Branden, which is great to see. So yeah, I think golf is very healthy at the moment, and it's very exciting to come and play. I'm starting to call them youngsters, which makes me feel very old.

Branden's son this morning called me Uncle again; I looked at him and said, "I don't think I'm there yet." It's great to see the game going really young. You have top guys at the top now and they are every week in and out, they are up in the leaderboard and that's where you need to have your game.

I think ten years ago or 15 years ago, everyone was always chasing Tiger and Tiger was the best at that stage. And now it's not just one man; it's three, four and even fivesome weeks that's really up there and everyone's trying to catch them. So I think it's very healthy.

Q. Will he be missed, Tiger? When he comes back -- will Tiger be missed?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: To me, I think everyone or most people forget how good he was, and I always love watching him play, see the type of shots that he wants to hit. But yeah, I think it's at that stage now where, like you said, it's the top three or the top four now, but he will never be forgotten for what he's done.

Q. On that note, the younger players, you've watched Branden Grace grow a lot in the last year in his game, now world No. 11. Do you see him as a frontrunner this week on this course? And is there a chance you think he'll be the first guy to retain that title here?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, Branden loves playing in windy conditions. He grew up with it, as well. We grew up close to each other back in SA and he obviously likes this golf course. So I'll never write him off; he's really become a player that's up there every week. He's a great putter. So if his ball-striking is on and he can find greens, he's always in contention. I won't be surprised to see him right up on the leaderboard from the start.

Q. And you've been runner-up here before; your thoughts on the course? Suits your game?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I like the golf course. I like playing in windy conditions. This was a stretch that I always start my season with when I was fully playing on The European Tour, with Qatar and Dubai. So I always love coming back here. It's a golf course that I like. Yeah, I'm looking forward to the week to get it started.

Q. There's been a lot of scandals involving various sports in recent months. Are you confident that golf would never get dragged into this? Are you confident that it's a clean sport?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Scandals, you mean by -- sorry.

Q. Scandals -- drug, betting scandals, it's affecting various sports.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I hope not. I hope it doesn't get pulled into it. It's a difficult one but I would hope that golf stays clean and away from it. Such a great game. There's not a lot of sports in the world that you can play from five-year-old to 75, 80 years old. It would be sad to see it being involved in something like that.

Q. Have you had your schedule worked out this year and how difficult is it to get the schedule properly balanced with so much going on this year?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, that's always takes you about a month just to try and sort out your schedule for the next year, and it always changes a little bit.

Yeah, it's always tough to get it right. But I'm starting a few more in Europe this year than in the US, so I'm only starting really at Doral when my U.S. schedule starts. Yeah, it's literally making up my minimum events in the US and I'll easily get up my numbers from Europe this year.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, Louis. Have a great week.

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