Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen wants to make a trademark flying start to the year in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, but is already focusing on claiming a second major title in 2016.
Oosthuizen has a remarkable record in his first event of the calendar year, winning the Africa Open in 2011 and 2012 and following that with consecutive victories in the Volvo Golf Champions in 2013 and 2014.
Injury meant the South African did not start his 2015 campaign until March, but his first event produced a sixth-placed finish in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and he went on to lose out in a play-off for the Open and finish joint second in the US Open.
The 33-year-old has not played competitively since finishing joint 11th in the Nedbank Golf Challenge on December 6, but believes he is in the right frame of mind for another good start.
“I think I am well rested,” Oosthuizen said yeterday. “I didn’t touch golf clubs since the Nedbank up until last week. The first round was very shaky, didn’t make a birdie I think, but then sort of picked up quickly.
“After a good break, you want to go back out on the golf course again. You want to play and I think a lot of times with the schedules we have these days, you lose that a bit, to be hungry again just to go out and play. I got a bit of that back again after a big break.”
Oosthuizen has been plagued by various injuries and a lack of consistency over the years, but believes he is on the right track as he looks to add a second major title to his 2010 Open triumph.
“I’m always working on improving some parts of my game,” he added. “This year I want to get more in contention in a lot more tournaments. I feel like I’ve made a big step in the last year in the right direction with my body, getting everything sorted.
“I think now it’s time to get down to the golf and do more work. I had a taste of a second major last year and that really got me hungry to win a few more.
“I think it’s a bonus if you get to a major week and your game is on top form. That’s what everyone tries to get to and the really top guys do it every week, they get their game sharp for big events.
“I still need to get myself to that level. I feel the biggest thing for me is still consistency, but I’m moving in the right direction.” Oosthuizen’s fellow South African Branden Grace will attempt to become the first player to win back-to-back titles at Doha Golf Club.
Paul McGinley celebrates the start of a 25th and final European Tour at the event. The former Ryder Cup captain turns 50 in December and will focus his attentions on the Senior Tour in 2017.
Michael Hoey is the only other Irish man in the field.
Meanwhile Sergio Garcia — the 2014 champion in Doha — expects to see a much-changed European Ryder Cup side at Hazeltine from the one which retained the trophy two years ago.
Garcia has appeared in six of the past seven Ryder Cups, registering two-and-a-half points in Europe’s Gleneagles victory in 2014, with the 36-year-old fully expected to be part of the European team again this time around.
Europe will chase a fourth consecutive win and a seventh from their past eight tournaments, but Garcia believes the visitors will head Stateside with a number of rookies in their side.
“I would probably expect to see at least four or five new faces,” Garcia told Sky Sports. “That’s the way it looks at the moment. You never know as the year goes by, but at the moment there’s probably at least between three and five young players that could be on that team in September. Matt Fitzpatrick has a good chance of making the team. He has been playing very well and has got a lot of potential.”
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