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Oosthuizen takes McIlroy path to Malaysia

Oosthuizen will compete along with four other major champions in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Louis Oosthuizen follows in the footsteps of Rory McIloy this week as he looks to recover quickly from U.S. Masters disappointment in the tropical heat of the Maybank Malaysian Open.

The South African was just centimeters away from his second major victory in Sunday’s dramatic playoff, before Bubba Watson pulled out a tournament-winning wonder-shot from trees on the second playoff hole.

Just three days later and Oosthuizen, winner of the 2010 British Open, has traveled 16,000 kilometers to steamy Kuala Lumpur, where he joins four other major champions for the $2.5 million Malaysian Open.

It’s a challenge met with gusto last year by McIlroy, who atoned for throwing away a four-shot lead on the final day of the 2011 Masters by heading the field for two rounds in Malaysia, before eventually finishing third.

And the Northern Irishman proved it was possible to bounce back from a major near-miss when, just two months later, he won the U.S. Open with a record low score.

Oosthuizen, shattered by his journey and disappointment, admitted that he was still coming to grips with the Masters defeat – but said he was now more determined than ever to win the green jacket.

“You’ll always be disappointed, especially losing in any major. If it was a normal tournament you’d probably be over it much quicker,” Oosthuizen told AFP in an interview.

“But being a major and being the Masters, it’s something you dream about as a kid getting the green jacket. But to me it gives me more drive to go out there and win it. It definitely just makes me want the jacket more.”

The South African was joined on the long trip from Augusta by compatriot Charl Schwartzel, who won the 2011 Masters. He said he had not discussed the weekend in much detail with his old friend.

“Sometimes you don’t have to say anything,” Schwartzel said.

“You know what he’s going through but he’s the type of guy that seems to get over things a little bit quicker and sometimes you don’t have to say anything. They know you’ve just got to be a friend.”

Martin Kaymer, the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship winner, is also braving the globe-crossing journey, with Michael Campbell and Todd Hamilton completing the list of major-winners.

“Obviously coming from the Masters, the course looks a bit easier,” the U.S. PGA Championship winner said. “You can be very aggressive.”

However, defending champion Matteo Manassero warned it was “nearly impossible” for any player to cope with the journey, the jetlag and Malaysia’s draining humidity, immediately after the rigors of the Masters.

“If you come in a week like this being tired, it’s nearly impossible. It’s very difficult,” said the 18-year-old Italian, who claimed his second European Tour win by one shot last year and did not play at Augusta.

“Rory did it last year after what happened to him last year in the Masters, and it was amazing he was able to compete – you’ve got to be very, very fit.

“But I think I couldn’t have competed this week after being at the Masters because it would have been so difficult to just carry on for four days in this weather.”

There will be no late start for Oosthuizen and Schwartzel, who tee off at 8 a.m. Thursday alongside three-time Asian order of merit winner Thongchai Jaidee. Kaymer has the luxury of a 12:50 p.m. start.

“Tomorrow morning for both of us is going to be a tough round,” Oosthuizen said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 12, 2012, on page 14.

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