The South African has finished in the top three of a Major eight times since he won the Open in 2010. Is there a reason why he hasn't been able to get over the line since?
How Louis Oozthuizen Continues To Be Golf’s Perpetual Nearly Man
Golf is a sport that judges its stars by Major wins.
It’s how we settle debates, judge our favourite or least favourite golfers and it’s how we frame the success of a player’s season.
Golf’s latest star, Collin Morikawa, has already nabbed two Majors after winning the PGA Championship and Open Championship less than a year apart.
At The Open, Louis Oosthuizen could only watch as his playing partner racked up his second Major win in just eight appearances while he again played second fiddle.
Since his runaway 7-shot victory at the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen has done everything except add another Major title to his resumé, and his run of second place finishes at Majors is an unwanted record.
Prior to this year’s round of Majors, the South African already held the unenviable record of having finished second in all four Major championships.
He sits alongside golfing royalty who also have this record – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson to name a few – but all have collected more than the one Major title Oosthuizen currently possesses.
In this year alone, he has added a runner-up finish at the US Open and PGA Championship, leaving him with a mammoth six second place finishes at Majors.
When we zoom out even further, Oosthuizen has now finished in the top three at four of the past six Majors and eight times in total since his 2010 Open win.
His second place finish at the 2015 US Open is probably the most remarkable of the lot.
After carding an opening round 77, Oosthuizen rallied with rounds of 66-66-67 to record the best closing 54-hole stretch in US Open history.
He finished just one shot shy of eventual winner Jordan Spieth and was left to rue countless mistakes made during his opening round.
Equally as remarkable were the two playoffs losses he has suffered in Major tournaments.
The first was losing to Bubba Watson’s infamous shot from the pine straw at the 2012 Masters and the second was to Zach Johnson at the 2015 Open Championship.
But what is the reason for all of these second place finishes?
Some put it down to the fact he has never won a tournament on American soil.
His only PGA Tour win was at The Open and his 0-3 record in playoffs includes the two Majors and the Zurich Classic loss earlier this year.
He lives in Florida and plays all of his golf on the PGA Tour, but doesn’t play week in, week out and rarely finds himself in contention on a Sunday.
Another solid year on the Tour in 2021 has seen him so far pick up seven top 10 finishes and make 14 cuts, but still the win remains elusive.
Despite his solid golf, he doesn’t find himself either defending or chasing a lead very often on Tour.
One thing we can’t do when analysing his performances is put his runner up finishes down to Sunday meltdowns.
In fact, his average scoring across the four days at Majors championship is remarkably consistent – with 70 on Thursday being his highest and 69 on Fridays being his lowest.
His average rounds on weekends are 69.16 on Saturday and 69.83 on a Sunday – super solid.
Some have pointed out some significant moments in his Major losses have come when he has the driver in his hand.
We can recall as recently as the 2021 US Open the drive on the 17th hole that went out of bounds.
He followed this with an out of position drive on the 18th hole which meant he couldn’t go for the green when he needed an eagle to force a playoff with Jon Rahm.
This year’s PGA Championship saw the South African lose 2.63 strokes to the field off the tee and, on the first playoff hole at the Zurich Classic in May, Oosthuizen hit his tee shot into the water to hand Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman the win.
However, these are minor instances blotting the record player who is known for playing solid, consistent golf and possessing a swing that rarely buckles under pressure.
Sometimes, you just get beaten by the better player on the day.
Bubba Watson’s miracle shot at The Masters, Oosthuizen’s lip out for birdie at the 2015 Open and Phil’s age-defying run at the 2021 PGA Championship have all got in the way of more Major glory for Oosty.
Despite all this, his runner up record is something he’ll want to banish soon as the if the 38-year-old is to cash in while at the peak of his playing powers.