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July 5, 2011

Louis Oosthuizen


MARK STEVENS: We welcome Louis Oosthuizen to the media center at the John Deere Classic. You toured the John Deere factory this morning. Tell us about that and talk about your thoughts coming into the tournament.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I mean, this morning was what I was hoping for, to do for a while, coming to the factory and just seeing how everything is made. It was amazing just to walk through it and have that experience. Yeah, I was looking forward to playing this tournament. I was on and off, should I come, should I not come, but I'm such a big John Deere fan that I decided to come, and traveling from here back to the Open with the plane makes it a lot easier.

Q. What was your impression about the factory, and did anything stand out?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, there's so much just from the start, what's being made from this piece of steel eventually, and how well it's organized in there. I was just saying to my manager afterwards, I think being in there for a while -- I would drive everyone crazy because I have no idea where to go. The assembly line, it's just amazing to see proper team work to be done, and you can see everyone that works there takes a lot of pride in what they do, and it's just a great factory.

Q. Why are you so interested in John Deere?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I'm a farm boy. I grew up on a farm. I've got a little farm back in South Africa at the moment, and whenever I have a chance to go back to South Africa, we go there. You know, I believe if you've got a tractor it's got to be green. (Laughter.)

Q. We understand that you ordered a tractor last summer, and have you been driving it around on your farm?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I've been working with it, not just driving it. Yeah, I've got a tractor. I bought it last year. You know, it's been great fun, and I've got a little work to do when I'm back there. It's good, proper time away from golf.

Q. Can you give us an idea what work you're doing on the tractor?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, you know, preparing fields for -- I make hay quite a bit because we breed cattle on our farm. It's not a very big farm, and it's just big enough to keep me busy.

Q. Did it inspire maybe more purchases, more John Deeres?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I thought if you were going to ask if it inspired me to become a farmer. Yeah, like I said to you, since I was a little boy, my dad loved John Deere, and I always imagined myself driving one. You know, that dream came true last year; after the Open I decided to buy one. I'll tell you what, when I walked away today, my manger said he wants my credit card because you're not buying anything. But it was just great to see everything, and yeah, I'm very tempted.

Q. There's a lot of toys out there, John Deere toys. Did you have any toys growing up, John Deere toys or tractors?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Not the things you get today. But I've got my toy on the farm there, which is a lawnmower, which is a little John Deere lawnmower. That's my toy when I'm not on the tractor.

Q. Is South Africa pretty much all John Deere?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: That's difficult to say. I'm not that hooked up on the farming industry, but I think they've got quite a few different ones there. But John Deere is a big one, yeah.

Q. How does a farm boy end up playing golf?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: People have been asking me that since I got on the plane here. It doesn't feel like you're going to a golf tournament, it felt more like me going to the factory. But it's an amazing experience, and I'm just glad being here. Just to go through the factory, I was looking forward to that, and now it's just keep the head down and play golf.

Q. Did you test drive anything at the factory?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I took one of the combines for a quick spin, yeah. (Laughter.)
I didn't know if I was allowed to, but they said you can hop on one, so I said okay.

Q. You talked about putting your head down and playing golf. How did winning the Open affect your life and how did it affect your confidence at tournaments?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: It took me a while to get used to more attention than I was used to. I used to go to tournaments under the radar, just do my thing. But yeah, I mean, now I'm a bit more relaxed and a bit more easy with everything that's going around. I mean, it's part of the job still. You've still got to play golf at the end of the day and just put the head down and practice.

Q. Do you think playing the week before a major, playing the week before defending is going to serve as good preparation or as a potential distraction?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, I wanted to play the week before, especially before the Open, because before that I was going to be back home, not playing any golf or not a lot of golf. So I wanted to play.
A lot of weeks you don't want to because you play lots of tournaments before it. I mean, I didn't play the week before the U.S. Open, which I felt was really nice to have a good week to just practice, but about four or five weeks ago I looked at my schedule and what I needed to play, so that's one of the reasons, also, that I'm here.

Q. (Indiscernible) would you have played here or would you have played the Scottish Open?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Because I withdrew from the Memorial earlier in the year, or a few months ago, I didn't play well and I felt like I couldn't come over here to play for the week and I just practiced that week. You know, it's a tournament that's off my schedule that I need to get back, as well. It's a difficult week playing two Tours -- it's a difficult year, sorry, playing two Tours. I need to get 15 in America.
It just made sense to come and play here, and it just made it a lot easier with knowing that there's a plane straight from here -- ten-hour flight I think it will be. So it's a bit better than the trip I had to take here, which was 36 hours at the end of the day.

Q. A lot of people think that you can't really prepare for the British Open playing this kind of course, and also the travel, getting there on Monday, is kind of a setback. Did people try to talk you out of it?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, it was 50/50, you know. But at the end of the day, you're going to play in perfect weather over here. In Scotland you can get not great weather, and I just felt -- I'd rather have proper week where I can play and work a bit on my game. I've known links golf quite a while, and I didn't feel that it was too necessary to play a links golf course before the Open.
So I think if the guys that play over in Scotland, they definitely have a little bit more of an advantage playing a golf course like that before Royal St. Georges, but to me it's a lot to do with the numbers, getting the numbers up for the year.

Q. 36 hours, were you traveling --
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: It wasn't supposed to be. I had delay on delay on delay.

Q. How do you feel about your game right now a week in advance compared to where you were at this time last year?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, I think I feel a bit better than where I was last year this time. I missed a few cuts going to the Open and just everything fell together that week. You know, I felt I had a good U.S. Open two, three weeks ago, played really well there, and it just gave me a bit of confidence again. Yeah, I just want to play the week and then get the game right for next week. You know, it's going to be a big week for me to give the jug away, but hopefully I can take it back on Sunday.

Q. With your experience on the European Tour, you guys are a little more accustomed to getting on a long flight, getting off the airplane and playing golf. Do you feel like you're better prepared for this type of a situation than an American golfer?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, not as a European but as a South African. I've been doing it since 2002. Just to go to Europe is an 11-hour flight from Johannesburg to London, and then you're still in London. I'm used to flying. I don't think that's a problem. You know, I think I don't get scared if I know there's a long flight.

Q. Did anyone try to set you up with a green and gold shirt or a hat?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, the only green and gold shirt that I wore was the South African colors with green and gold, as well. No, it's a great week being here. I'm having a lot of fun.

Q. You talked about the factory, you talked about the British Open. What do you know about this course, this tournament, and obviously you don't play if you can't win, so talk about this course and this week?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I haven't been out there. I'm going tomorrow morning -- I arrived so late yesterday, I was supposed to go on my tour yesterday morning and was planning on playing in the afternoon, but I'm going out tomorrow morning, and my caddie walked the course, said it looks in great shape. So I'm going to see how they shot 59 and 60s, so I'm going to go out and see what it looks like.
Yeah, I think this morning threw me a bit off the game face, really, but from tomorrow I'll be fine. I'll have the game face on for the tournament and be ready for the week.

Q. (No microphone.)
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: You know, it's great having fun in a week like that. It makes you relax and it makes you play better golf, as well. To me it was more than just a golf week, it's a big dream come true.

Q. Were there people who said, don't do that, don't come, don't play in America the week before the British Open?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Yeah, they said -- more have said what it might do; you might be tired from that. But at the end of the day it was my decision, and again, like I said to you, I'm struggling getting 15 tournaments in.
I think if I played there, I think if I played the Memorial earlier this season, my head was probably heading towards Scotland or maybe not even playing at all. But it's just -- I'm glad I came after what I've seen this morning.

Q. Why did you choose to play the U.S. Tour this year? A lot of Europeans have not, Rory and a lot of young players have decided not to have dual membership.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: Well, it's also that I've wanted to try the U.S. Tour. I wanted to give myself an opportunity just to see what it's like, and with the exemptions I just felt it was the right thing to do. It was the obvious thing to do to take up my card and see how I like it. You know, I still haven't found exactly how they do both tours, which to play and which not to play. I think it's probably taken me a bit of time just to get the schedule right.
But there are a lot of guys that do it. Ernie does it, Poulter does it, there's a few guys that do it. I think just taking a bit of time to get the schedule right.

Q. Talk about Royal St. Georges next week, the venue. How much have you played it and is it similar or different from the other British Open venues?
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN: I played it two months, a month and a half ago, I think. Great golf course. The wind was blowing about 60 kilometers an hour. So I'm expecting that next week. The rough wasn't that bad when I was there, but it'll definitely be up.
But it's like any British Open or Open Championship golf course; try and stay out of the traps and just work your way around the golf course. You know, par at the Open Championship is a great round, and hopefully the weather is easier than it was last year.

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