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Louis Oosthuizen’s ‘perfect’ round gives him early British Open lead

Things in life you can count on: Death, taxes and Louis Oosthuizen contending at a major championship.

When you consider how buttery-smooth the 38-year-old South African’s swing is and the fact that he’s finished runner-up six times in major championships, including the past two played this year, it’s remarkable Oosthuizen doesn’t have several more wins in majors than the one he has.

After shooting a 6-under-par 64 in Thursday’s first round of the British Open at Royal St. George’s, Oosthuizen seized the clubhouse lead as the players with afternoon tee times were just teeing off. He was trailed by Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman, both of whom shot 5-under-par 65s.

“Probably in my mind the perfect round I could have played,” Oosthuizen said. “I didn’t make many mistakes. When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts.”

Oosthuizen began his round by parring his first seven holes and then birdied six of his final 11.

Louis Oosthuizen British Open
Louis Oosthuizen watches his drive from the 17th tee during his first round of the British Open on July 15, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

“Yeah, seven pars, I think I probably would have taken seven pars again,” Oosthuizen said. “I’ve learned over the years playing major championships that patience is the key thing, and even if you make bogeys, know that a lot of people are going to make bogeys.

“I was just very patient. I was trying to just hit my shots and didn’t really hit anything close enough to make birdies those first few holes, and then all of a sudden just made two good putts on 8 and 9 and got the ball rolling. It happened quickly, but you still need to put yourself in those positions, and I felt definitely the last 10, 11 holes I gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

Oosthuizen has made putting himself in position at major championships an art form.

“It gives me confidence going into majors knowing that I’m still competing in them and I’ve still got chances of winning,” Oosthuizen said. “But once the week starts, I need to get that out of my mind and just focus on every round and every shot. But it definitely puts me in a better frame of mind going into the week.”

He, too, has he mastered the art of resiliency.

Asked how long it takes for him to get over the close-call runner-up finishes, Oosthuizen said, “It depends if you lost it or someone else beat you.”

He said that, in the runner-up to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship in May and to Jon Rahm at the U.S. Open last month, he felt he was “beaten by better golf at the end there.”

“It takes a little while, but you have to get over it quickly, otherwise it’s going to hold you back to perform again,” he said. “But yeah, I tried to take a few days and just try and forget about it and see if I can get myself ready for the next one.”

British Open, Open Championship, Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen lines up a shot on the 16th tee with the help of his caddie during the first round of the British Open on July 15, 2021.
PA Images via Getty Images

Oosthuizen has several secrets to his resiliency.

Firstly, he never takes himself too seriously, as evidenced by the brilliant YouTube video he posted of himself lip-synching Adele’s hit song “Rise Up.”

He also has learned to move on from disappointment on the golf course.

“I feel if you do the work that you feel you should have done to get ready for a tournament and you left everything sort of out on the course, then there’s not much more that you can do,” he said. “I do get upset on shots if I hit bad shots and things like that, but I try and always be at the best mindset for the next golf shot and the next tournament or the next round.

“I try and not think too much of mistakes that you make on the golf course. I try and focus on every time hitting the best shot that I can hit, and I feel that’s the only way you can sort of go forward in this game.”

Oosthuizen said, after his disappointing finishes, he gets away from the game on his farm in South Africa with his family to “just get my head away from golf completely.”

“I’m always on the tractor,” he said. “I don’t need to play good or bad to be on the tractor.”

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