Oosthuizen looks to gain momentum as 2011 schedule kicks off in Africa

louis oosthuizen
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Louis Oosthuizen's play has been inconsistent since he injured an ankle on a hunting trip after winning the British Open.
By
Thahir Asmal
PA Sport

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Published: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 | 11:24 a.m.

Louis Oosthuizen is hoping to use this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship to continue building momentum after a recent ankle injury.

The British Open champion, the world No. 24, is the highest-ranked player present at the Leopard Creek Country Club, where fellow high-profile South Africans Charl Schwartzel and 2008 winner Richard Sterne will also compete in an event that marks the official start of the 2011 European Tour as well as the beginning of the winter schedule on southern Africa’s 2010-2011 Sunshine Tour.

2010 ALFRED DUNHILL CHAMPIONSHIP

The Alfred Dunhill Championship is the first event of the 2011 European Tour season.

Four other previous champions -- Spaniard Pablo Martin (2009), Englishmen John Bickerton (2007) and Anthony Wall (2000) and Germany's Marcel Siem (2004) -- also have entered.

Oosthuizen has had limited playing time since his victory at St. Andrews in July, completing just five more tournaments before suffering a freak ankle injury while on a hunting trip in his homeland.

That put him out for two months, and his return so far has seen him finish 72nd at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, 13th at the Dubai World Championship and last in the 12-man field at last week's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

"I had a long break and then in Dubai I played really nicely," he said. "I got the game back to sort of a way that I could play and be in contention and then Nedbank was a bit rough.

"I think I took a few steps backward there last week. But this week I found a few things in my swing and I feel really good,” he explained. "It's been a while since I played, so I knew it's going to take me a tournament or two just to get back in it. It's the third tournament back and I'm now feeling pretty confident."

Oosthuizen also confirmed that he was now fully over his injury, saying: "The ankle is fine. I'm still doing my stretches and things with it I need to do, but it's perfect."

The 28-year-old finished second in the competition in 2005, but his last four visits have all seen him leave before the weekend after missing the cut. However, he always relishes playing on South Africa's top-rated course, which borders the world-famous Kruger National Park.

"It (my return to South Africa) has been good. Playing in the Nedbank has been a dream of mine since I was a little boy, so that was fun.

"I'm now at Leopard Creek and you don't have to say anything about this place,” he added. “It's probably one of the most special places to come every year, with the park and everything, so it's good to be back and I look forward to the week ahead."