[PHOTO: Stuart Franklin]
Career firsts don’t often come when you’re 41 years old, but Louis Oosthuizen is appreciative of the one he pulled off overnight. A two-shot victory over Laurie Canter at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open marked a second straight DP World Tour title for the former Open Championship winner after claiming the Alfred Dunhill Championship six days earlier. And that marked the first time the South African has won tournaments in back-to-back starts on any circuit.
“Golf is the strangest thing,” said Oosthuizen, who hadn’t won since 2018 before his recent run. “The past five weeks I’ve not done a lot with golf. I’ve played a few rounds and when I got to Leopard Creek [and the Alfred Dunhill] I was working on a small little thing. I started hitting it really good and I know I’m putting well and then I just carried on with that momentum.”
Oosthuizen jumped to the LIV Golf League in 2022 and is no longer a member of the DP World Tour, but sponsors’ exemptions into both events allowed him to increase his career win total on his former circuit to 11. And it also capped a crazy unusual of play in the first part of the 2023-2024 DP World Tour season.
Of the six DP World Tour events contested so far – billed the “Opening Swing” by the tour – five were won by LIV golfers who don’t have status on the DP World Tour but were participants in the tournament via sponsors’ exemptions.
Before Oosthuizen’s twin wins, Dean Burmester won the Joberg Open and South African Open in back-to-back weeks. And Joaquin Niemann captured the title at the Australian Open. Min Woo Lee was the lone member of the DP World Tour to win one of the tour’s early events when he captured the Australian PGA Championship.
The LIV golfers who competed in these co-sanctioned DP World Tour events also benefitted from the fact that these tournaments awarded world ranking points. That’s something LIV events don’t and it’s resulted in several LIV golfers tumbling well down the world ranking list.
Consider Oosthuizen: entering last week’s event he ranked 441st in the OWGR. After win No.2, he’s projected to be 133rd when the official listing comes out later today.
Burmester jumped from 154th the week before his win to 75th. Niemann was 87th, but his victory in Sydney bumped him to 59th.
Even a non-winner benefitted from playing in these home events. Charl Schwartzel was runner-up to Oosthuizen at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and saw his world ranking go from 503rd to 289th.