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.
“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.