• NGC 2019: Round one talking points

    Louis Oosthuizen
    King Louis

    JOHN GOLIATH talks us through the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge which saw the South African flags cover the first page of the leaderboard.

    Louis slows it down

    Louis Oosthuizen has got one of the most rhythmical golf swings on the planet. It’s a thing of beauty, with no big wind up or an elaborate finish. Its magnificence is in its simplicity. It’s probably the reason why he could still shoot lights out on Thursday after kidney stones nearly crippled him in the night before. Ooshuizen said after his round that he just had to slow everything down to try and get through the day. In a sense he also slowed down his mind, which normally gets in the way of him and his glorious swing living together in perfect harmony. At Sun City, you have to hit it straight off the tee to give you the best shot to hit enough greens to try and score. On Thursday, Ootshuizen was second in driving accuracy and third in greens in regulation because he was swinging it so well. He then made the least number of putts for the round, which helped him shoot his 64.

    School fees are expensive at Sun City

    This is probably going to sound absolutely ridiculous after Oosthuizen – kidney stones and all – shot lights out on Thursday, but the Gary Player Country Club is a place where you have to pick your battles. It’s not a course that you aren’t going to easily overpower. Playing for position and then aiming for the heart of the green is sometimes the best option than going flag hunting. Erik van Rooyen found that out a few times on Thursday, with three bogyes and double, but he battled back nicely on the second nine with three consecutive birdies for a 2-under 70. A host of other players also struggled rein themselves and ended up paying the price. It’s difficult for a player to try and haul in the leaders on this course, which is why Oosthuizen’s 64 was so impressive under the circumstances.

    Give it to us just one more time, Oom Ernie!

    If I get granted one wish from a golf genie, it wouldn’t be to let me play like Rory McIlroy. It would be to give Ernie Els another shot at the Masters at Augusta National. His current world ranking of 418 doesn’t automatically get him into next year’s edition, while his five-year exemption for winning the 2012 Open expired in 2017. In 2018, he mistakenly thought he got an invite play in the 2019 edition – on Christmas day nogal. At 50, it’s highly unlikely that Els will get another invite from the people at Augusta National, especially after he was quoted in the New York Post saying ‘to be honest with you, I won’t miss the place. I had enough of it – especially the last five years I played it terribly’. Els has made 23 career appearances at the Masters, with two runner-up finishes, including the heartbreak of 2004. But maybe winning the Nedbank will persuade the people at Augusta National to give the Big Easy another shot at glory in between the azaleas in 2020. He certainly showed on Thursday that he can still compete with the youngsters on a tough track.

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