This month Compleat Golfer’s playing editor, Louis Oosthuizen, explains his approach to the early part of 2018 and his expectations.
The end of last year didn’t quite go according to plan for me. I got myself into a good place to win the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, but made bad mistakes when it counted on Saturday and Sunday. Then a freak injury happened on the way home and I was forced to withdraw from the Joburg Open, which was a real pity.
I was pulling out a trolley at OR Tambo and jammed my index and middle finger on my left hand, which left me unable to grip a club properly. Theoretically I could have teed up that week, but I would have been in no condition to challenge and I’d never want to take the place of someone who is fully fit and ready to give it 100%.
So, I packed the clubs away for two weeks, which allowed me some great family time and we all loved being back in South Africa. In the middle of December, I hosted my foundation’s charity day at Pinnacle Point – it was hugely successful, with the big plus being I was able to see so many friendly faces. It has become an annual occasion and the vibe is great. It’s also just down the road from Mossel Bay where so many things started for me with that round of 57.
Rest and recuperation are vital for keeping me mentally fresh for the long year ahead. The time off is invaluable – it gets me focused and sparks
my competitive juices. I’ll only be back in South Africa again this coming November and it’s non-stop between now and then, so the holiday is much needed on a professional and personal level.
Fortunately for me, where I am in my career, I know what I need to do to get myself in the best possible position to compete at the highest level. My playing schedule has been reduced, which suits me, but what you probably don’t see is that a week or two off from playing on the PGA Tour isn’t ‘down time’.
We spend a lot of time travelling and working on the course and the range, grinding away on whatever needs to be ironed out. You are working and playing golf constantly, so my December-January break will have become a distant memory once the peak season started.
The longer I do this, the better I become at switching off when need be and doing something nice with my family. It took a while to master this, but it keeps me fresh and ready.
It’s another reason I couldn’t play the SA Open at Glendower – coming back from my family holiday didn’t give me enough time to prepare properly for the tournament. As with my unfortunate mishap before the Joburg Open, I can’t and will never tee it up with the hope of making the cut or playing just for the sake of it. I need enough time to get everything ready because when I play, I want to be in top shape to get the job done.
My season started at the Singapore Open towards the end of January and then it was on to Dubai for the Desert Classic. After that I was heading to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Last year I closed with a 65 to finish third in Phoenix, one stroke behind Hideki Matsuyama and Webb Simpson, and it was a great start to the year. Hopefully I will be able to find some early form to set me up for bigger and better things in the coming months.
After that busy little run, I will take a couple of weeks off and pause to reflect where my game is before the Honda Classic in Palm Beach.
From the moment I start competitive golf in 2018, it’s all about Augusta and The Masters. Obviously, you want to start well and get straight
into the groove, but there is still some time after the Honda to work on the swing if I need to. If there are any changes to be made, that’s when I will make them before starting the run-up to the year’s first big one.
– Louis Oosthuizen is Compleat Golfer’s playing editor and writes a monthly column for the magazine