Louis Oosthuizen is hoping some friendly advice from his compatriot Ernie Els will stand him in good stead as he makes his debut in the Ballantine’s Championship this week.
Before committing to the Ballantine’s Championship, which returns to Blackstone Golf Club for the third successive season, Oosthuizen consulted Els, who finished inside the top ten in two of his three appearances in the €2,205,000 event.
Oosthuizen heard only good things from the reigning Open Champion, and so was only too willing to make the trip from his Florida base to the South Korean capital Seoul – especially as the tournament organisers had laid on a private jet for him.
He said: “I’ve seen a lot of this tournament on television and heard a lot of good things about it from Ernie, so it was an easy decision for me to make. Plus they made it even easier for me to come by putting up a plane all the way from the States over here, so that was really nice of them.
“I’m looking forward to the week and looking forward to seeing what challenges the golf course presents when I play the Pro-Am this afternoon. From the range it looks like some of the holes are quite tight off the tee, so it should be a good test.”
Oosthuizen’s last competitive appearance was in the Masters Tournament, where an uncharacteristically careless display around the greens resulted in the South African missing the cut.
Having come close to winning at Augusta National last year – when only an inspired display from American Bubba Watson in the play-off prevented Oosthuizen from receiving the Green Jacket from his friend Charl Schwartzel – he was naturally disappointed with his performance; but the World Number Seven remains confident of rediscovering his early season form and adding to the Volvo Golf Champions title he claimed on home soil in January.
Oosthuizen said: “My short game really let me down at the Masters – my putting wasn’t nearly good enough. I had far too many putts, and ended up missing the cut by two.
“I hit it okay – not great, but not terrible either – but around Augusta you need to putt really well, and the greens just got the better of me for the two days. But it hasn’t knocked my confidence too much, and I still feel good about this week.”
Ahead of his tilt at the title, Oosthuizen attended the lavish Gala Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday night, and was challenged to a game of Tuho by Korean Y E Yang.
Tuho master Lim Young-soo guided the two Major Champions through the game, which involves trying to throw sticks into an ornate canister.
“I’m glad I’m sticking to golf,” joked Oosthuizen. “I’m not going to take it on as a profession, it’s not as easy as it looks! But it was good fun. It’s always nice to come to different parts of the world and experience different cultures, so I really enjoyed it – even though Y E was much better than me.”