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June 14, 2011

Louis Oosthuizen


BETH MURRISON: We're very happy to have with us today Louis Oosthuizen, who is the reigning British Open champion. He won in a commanding victory last summer at St. Andrews. He is playing in his second U.S. Open. He missed the cut last year at Pebble Beach. Can you talk a little bit about coming back to the U.S. Open as a reigning major winner?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it's probably a bit different than it was last year at Pebble. Yeah, but I'm looking forward to the week. I can look forward to every big tournament I tee off in every major. And it's been up and down, really, since The Open win. But I'm just glad being here and glad having the game a bit better than it was a few months ago.
BETH MURRISON: You indicated you played a practice round last week and also played a little bit today. Can you talk about how you find Congressional.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it's probably going to be the toughest, fairest tournament that I've played in. Great golf course. Good shots will be -- is going to get good results. It's just -- it all depends on how quick the greens will be, but I'm pretty sure it will be quick. But it's all about where you leave yourself on your second shot. And the big thing around these greens is never short-side yourself.

Q. We were talking earlier to Graeme McDowell, not dissimilar sort of terminology to what you've just been saying about after the big Open win, his, of course, in the U.S. Open last year. What is it? Is it just you can't hit that perhaps emotional peak or other factors intrude in the ensuing months? What exactly is it that is the disruption?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I don't think it's disruption, it's just you've probably peaked at the highest level you can get, winning The Open at St. Andrews. That was by far the highest that I've ever reached. And to stay there is difficult. And I knew that with this game you're going to go down, but you're going to get back up again. So it took me a while just to get used to everything around, going to tournaments, a bit more responsibility at tournaments. And I think once you get over that you find just getting your head around the tournament again.
Now every tournament I play in I want to be as much prepared as I can, especially in a major tournament. And I feel like I'm pretty well prepared for this one.

Q. (Inaudible.)
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it's -- you know, I think everyone's got their time that they play in. A lot of guys peak and stay there for years, and other guys go up and down. It was just -- to me it was just a huge change. It just took a bit of time to settle in.

Q. 54-hole leaders in majors have had some interesting results on Sunday the last year or so. You had a healthy lead going into Sunday at St. Andrews. What was that night like, were you surprised at how you handled yourself on Sunday?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I think the Friday night was probably the worst for me because I had 27 hours, I think, before my next tee time. And, you know, I felt more nervous the Saturday, but the way I finished on the Saturday, finishing 2- or 3-under the last five holes. And that just gave me a bit of confidence going into the next day. I was very confident the way I played. I was never scared on any shot and there was no particular hole that I felt scared of and I was driving it so well. At St. Andrews everything is off the tee. If you can place it off the tee in a fairway all the time, missing all the bunkers, you've already won most of it.
So that helped a lot. And it didn't feel like the Sunday anyone really pushed from -- it was me and Paul and then what happened on the 12th just swung around completely. And the last six holes I was quite nervous because it's fine having a three-shot lead because you're very focused then, but it's always difficult keeping focused having seven shots playing the last six holes.

Q. Do you remember watching Ernie when he won here?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, I didn't. I watched it but I can't remember much. At that stage Ernie was every young kid in South Africa's idol, and I think he still is. But I just remember what it did to us as juniors, me and Charl playing for South Africa at that time as juniors. And just we wanted to be like Ernie.

Q. That was my other question. When did you decide that I want to be like that guy and do what he did? And then how different or special was it that that guy, your idol, helped you as much as he did to get to this point?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I mean, before I went into his foundation, he was my golfing hero. And just to go into his foundation then at the end just topped everything off. It was such a great opportunity getting to know him better, and what he still means to me playing professionally. He's just a great guy and he just -- I think there's still a lot of youngsters that want to be like Ernie.

Q. Ernie won the '97 U.S. Open right here. Lately South African players have had a lot of success in majors. Can you speak of that success with the South African players?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I still believe we've got a very good junior foundation, out African Junior Foundation going through. All of us that have gone through it, have gone through the amateur ranks, have played amateur tournaments overseas. And it helps just to get all -- to do a bit of the traveling and everything, just to get used to what it will be like when you turn professional.
I don't know, South Africa is a big sporting country. We've got rugby, cricket, football, golf, tennis, you've got everything. I think it's just a bit in our blood, really, loving to be in a situation where you can win.

Q. Can you talk about yourself and Charl kind of coming up through the ranks together and now being major champions at the same time?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: It's amazing. We talked about it the other day, when you look back when we used to play together as juniors, the first time we played together was in 1993 or '94. We played together in Randpark in Johannesberg, and I was a 12 year old and Charl was a 10 year old. And it was just -- since then we played most of the tournaments we played in the same tournaments and then ended up playing junior golf together, won tournaments together as juniors for South Africa and then as amateurs, as well.
It's just great to have a friend like him on Tour and to have the same success. I think the two of us feed off each other quite a lot. If he plays well, I want to play well. And if I play well, he wants to, as well. It's good. It's really good what we have going for us.

Q. What can you tell us about that first tournament when you were 12 and he was 10?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I had a very bad temper. I remember that. I hated it when I didn't make any putts. And he always tells me that his dad walked with -- and he always tells me his dad said, wow, this kid has a bad temper, he's bad news. So it was always like that. But luckily I grew out of that.

Q. You've talked a lot about Ernie. He's kind of going through a tough stretch right now. I'm wondering if the mentoring at all has turned around. I wonder if he's talked to you about his frustrations at all and if you've seen any of that or you've discussed it with him?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: No, you know, I never see Ernie frustrated, really. He's just got that go-with-the-flow really. I think all of us as golfers know that you're going -- whenever you go through bad patches you will get through it. He's starting to play great again. I played with him at Wentworth and it's amazing how well he hit the ball. He putted beautifully that week, as well, at Wentworth.
You can always -- I always expect him to play well. It's a funny game. You could be down in the slumps and the next day you find something and you're up there. So you just need to keep grinding.

Q. Trevor Immelman to some degree a bit of almost a forgotten man in some ways, since winning the Masters. Reflect back on his victory a couple of years back and what that did for South African golfing and the impact he had in a sense after Ernie on you young guns.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, Trevor I still remember playing the same tournaments as a junior, when I got on the junior scene and he was just about to turn professional. And the way he played the Masters was brilliant. He had a tough time since then with all the injuries and everything and just getting back to being able to just play again. And you get those injuries that don't want to go away and it takes you a bit of time.
But what he did for us was brilliant because it just made the dream more realistic that you also played with him. We never really played with Ernie or Retief, but we actually know this guy, we played with him. And it just made it more realistic and it just made it a bit easier to realize that you can do it.

Q. Just curious, you and Charl played this morning, did you? Did you go out with Charl this morning?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, we played nine holes.

Q. When you guys go out, and especially in this country, are you both recognized pretty much or is one of you -- do you think they recognize one more than the other?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I think they probably recognize Charl a bit more because he won the Masters. I think so. It's fresh in the memory, probably. It doesn't really matter to me and I think it won't matter to him. But I think they probably see him a bit more than me.

Q. Have you and Charl talked to each other about how to handle what you all have been through in the last year and how to deal with suddenly being a major winner and going through that and what the attention is? What do you all talk about?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, now and then we talk about that. I remember talking to Charl after my Open win and saying it's tough, it gets to you, some things. He said you can see that I'm completely different playing tournaments, a lot of things. And now I just laugh at him when he looks at me and he starts talking. I said, I told you. I told you. So now it's nice having those chats, as well. But I hope everyone thinks we were handling it well. But we try and do the best job we can.

Q. You said that you used to have a bad temper. How much was golf responsible for you curing that?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I used to have a bad temper on the golf course, I wouldn't say off the golf course. But I couldn't take hitting a bad shot. The minute I realized that golf is not a perfect game and that you're going to make mistakes, the minute you realize that, you've done quite a bit. And I think it took me a while to realize that I can still shoot a score by hitting bad shots. You don't have to hit every shot perfect. And I think to my golf that was the biggest change in my golfing career.

Q. If you could, what would you say is the most important ingredient to winning a major championship, in your case The Open Championship? If you could roll your mind back to that week, what were the things that stood out that were integral in winning it?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Mine was to me the way I stayed in the present, the way I never, never for one minute thought of winning the tournament during the round. A lot of times -- especially that's why I say it was so difficult the last six holes because you had a seven-shot lead, all of a sudden you're thinking of standing with the Claret Jug. And you've got to actually just get yourself out of that mind frame and just thinking shot for shot and just do the best you can and we'll see. Any major tournament the course is tough. You can hit one shot that's not even that bad a shot, but you can end up making a bad bounce, make a double bogey or something, and all of a sudden you're thinking completely differently.
To me for that tournament only after my second shot on 17 I was really -- I felt like I'm not going to throw it away from here. But up until that stage I was so focused on every shot, and I think that was the biggest key to my success.
BETH MURRISON: Louis, thank you so much for visiting us today.

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