Oosthuizen looking for 'name' recognition

By Jason SobelMay 17, 2014, 11:42 pm

IRVING, Texas – Louis Oosthuizen has been getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment lately.

When he showed up to last week’s Players Championship, he pulled into the player lot and parked in the space reserved just for him. Well, sort of.

The attached nameplate read: Larry Oosthuizen.

“I didn’t really realize it until Charl Schwartzel sent me the picture of it,” Oosthuizen said. “They got the last name spelled right, but not even close with the first.”

For a guy who’s accustomed to having everyone get his last name wrong, it provided some ironic hilarity.

And it didn’t end there.

When Oosthuizen showed up to the Byron Nelson Championship, he went to the practice range and heard catcalls of “Larry” from his fellow players.

Again, he didn’t immediately notice the tangible misspelling – until he looked at his golf bag.

The name etched in script read: Larry Oosthuizen.


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“That was Charl again,” he said of his fellow South African, who tweeted a photo of the prank. “He probably had nothing to do, so he had Ping make a bag that said Larry Oosthuizen. I didn’t realize it was on the bag even after Jason Dufner and everyone was giving me some stick. I just laughed. Next thing you know, I looked at the bag and it said Larry Oosthuizen.” 

As it turns out, it might be Oosthuizen who gets the last laugh.

That’s because a third-round 6-under 64 has Larry – sorry, Louis – tied for the lead with Brendon Todd entering the final day.

“Every opportunity I had for birdie I actually made,” he said afterward. “My eye was good today, and I hit a lot of them really close.”

After opening with two bogeys in his first four holes, Oosthuizen peeled off three in a row, then posted a total of five in a back-nine 30 that vaulted him up the leaderboard.

Despite being an Open Championship winner and a Masters Tournament runner-up and a 12-time global champion, Oosthuizen is still seeking his first victory on United States soil.

A little over two years ago, he moved his family to South Florida in an attempt to play the PGA Tour full-time without the strain of international travel. Now that move is on the verge of paying dividends.

“I wanted to come over here and get familiar more with the Tour and playing a full schedule,” he explained. “It's just taking me a bit longer to really get my game where I want it to be. Hopefully this weekend can kick off something and get my game on the track that I want it to be.”

Part of that untracking has been due to lingering injuries. At this tournament a year ago, he withdrew with a neck issue – one of three withdrawals in a five-tournament span that also included the Open.

While he’s looked 100 percent so far this week, Oosthuizen isn’t convinced he’s quite there yet.

“The last year and a half was really frustrating for me, injury on injury,” he said. “I've been struggling still with lower back injuries and had to withdraw three, four weeks ago when I played in Indonesia. So it's a frustrating season for me so far, because just now and then I really get issues with my back and can't really get to the bottom of it. Working on a few things to see if we can get it sorted out.”

If his health isn’t perfect, his game doesn’t look far off.

In what’s been an all-or-nothing year so far – he has a win at the Volvo Golf Champions and two other top-five finishes, but also five missed cuts in 10 worldwide starts – he’s hoping this week is another all.

Based on his finish of four birdies in the last five holes, he seems ready for that.

“It's always nice finishing a round on a high,” Oosthuizen said. “You sort of feed off that the next morning or the next day and that keeps you going. Tomorrow there is obviously a little bit more pressure on everyone that's in the last groups, but that's great to put yourself in that position and see how you face it and try to get out on top.”

For the guy they’ve all been calling “Larry” for the past two weeks, a victory on Sunday would finally net a little respect.

He should still make sure they get it right on the paycheck.

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.