SMBC Singapore Open 2018

Breaking a major duck only the start

Oosthuizen, having been runner-up four times since 2010 Open win, well aware how tough it is to win another one

Scaling golf's Major summit for the first time is a momentous feat, but doing it again is almost as hard; there are 31 one-and-done Major winners since 2000.

Some never come close again - true one-hit wonders like 2002 PGA Championship winner Rich Beem, who missed the cut as defending champion in 2003 and has not won a tournament in 273 starts since.

And then there is Louis Oosthuizen, who last year at the PGA Championship recorded his fourth runner-up finish at the Majors since his 2010 British Open triumph.

"I think your first one, sometimes it's taken so much out of you to win and then it's sort of you feel like it's difficult to get to that emotion again, to that spot where you do it again," the South African told The Straits Times yesterday at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He is part of this week's field for the US$1 million (S$1.3 million) SMBC Singapore Open.

"But, for other guys, it makes you even hungrier for the second one. Winning a second for your career just means the world, it just puts you on a different level. So I would love to get one more."

The 35-year-old understands heartbreak, having endured two play-off losses at the 2012 Masters and 2015 British Open. He also lost in a play-off to Matteo Mannassero at the 2012 Singapore Open and has returned to the Republic with redemption on his mind.

World No. 24 Oosthuizen added: "It'll be nice going one better. I'm glad to be back, it's a golf course I really enjoy and hopefully, I'll have a good week."


South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen practising his putting at the Sentosa Golf Club yesterday. The first round of the SMBC Singapore Open starts tomorrow with a solid field including Oosthuizen, reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia and American Pat Perez.  ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Oosthuizen acknowledged that being in contention at a Major over the final stretch is a unique situation.

He said: "When you get into that position with eight or nine holes to go, you're a little bit more nervous, have more adrenalin going. But that's what you work towards... because I'm in contention to win."

Winning a Major has also become more difficult with the depth of talent out there, Oosthuizen observed.

Americans Brooks Koepka, 27, and Justin Thomas, 24, both won their first Majors last year while Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are playing sublime golf.

Oosthuizen said: "The guys winning Majors now, they're getting younger and younger. Young guys are coming out of college and on to the PGA Tour and winning big events. So it's getting more difficult for older ones like me."

World No. 16 Pat Perez, who is making his Singapore Open debut, echoed Oosthuizen's thoughts.

"It's just difficult to win anywhere now," said the 41-year-old American, who won the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur last October.

"You look at the depth of every Tour and every Tour is much better than it used to be. Every player tries harder, they work harder.

"The thing about the Majors is that you've only got four chances a year so you're either on or you're not, and there are a lot of players on this (PGA) Tour."

  • NOTABLE SLUMPS BY ONE-TIME MAJOR WINNERS

  • DAVID DUVAL, 46 (USA)

    Former world No. 1 won the 2001 British Open but is winless in 255 starts.

    RICH BEEM, 47 (USA)

    Won 2002 PGA Championship but winless in 273 starts.

    SHAUN MICHEEL, 49 (USA)

    Won 2003 PGA Championship but winless in 280 starts.

    TODD HAMILTON, 52 (USA)

    Won 2004 British Open but winless in 272 starts.

    MICHAEL CAMPBELL, 48 (NZL)

    Won 2005 US Open but no wins after that.

    DARREN CLARKE, 49 (NIE)

    Won 2011 British Open but no wins after that.

    DANNY WILLETT, 30 (ENG)

    Won 2016 Masters but lost PGA Tour card last year

There are simply no guarantees, he added, pointing to how compatriot Matt Kuchar had led last year's British Open field at the 13th hole in the final round only for eventual winner Spieth to stage a dramatic comeback with a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie run.

"Matt had the lead on Jordan but, in the end, Jordan did what he did. Matt (nine-under 271) was playing phenomenally," said Perez.

HEADY RUSH

When you get into that position with eight or nine holes to go, you're a little bit more nervous, have more adrenalin going. But that's what you work towards... because I'm in contention to win.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN, world No. 24 golfer, on the thrill of being in the hunt in the final round of a Major.


A GAME OF FINE MARGINS

Matt had the lead on Jordan but, in the end, Jordan did what he did. Matt was playing phenomenally. You look at Sergio (Garcia), he's got one but he was there a million times before. So it's just hard.

PAT PEREZ, world No. 16 golfer, on how elite golfers like second-ranked Jordan Spieth are capable of pulling something spectacular out of the bag.

"You look at Sergio (Garcia), he's got one but he was there a million times before. So it's just hard."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Breaking a major duck only the start'. Print Edition | Subscribe