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Tuesday notebook

Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen (right) spent some time with Ian Poulter getting to know Whistling Straits on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

KOHLER, Wis. – Louis Oosthuizen, the unlikely winner of the Open Championship at St. Andrews a month ago, enters this week at Whistling Straits and the PGA Championship as one of the hottest players on the planet.

Since the South African’s incredible victory at the birthplace of golf, he’s played in two events and finished inside the top-10 in both, including a tie for ninth at last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

Obviously, the 27-year-old Oosthuizen is riding high on confidence.

“I think that if you are playing well, you want to play all the big tournaments that you can,” he said. “I started off a little bit rough last week at Firestone and got it better during the weekend sort of finding my game the last 27 holes really of the tournament.  So I think it's nice playing knowing in your head you won a major a month ago and I think it's a nice confidence boost going out there and it's just a matter of putting everything off the golf course out of your head when you're on the golf course.”

Oosthuizen is making his third consecutive start in a PGA Championship this week. He’s looking to build on a missed cut in 2009 and a 73rd-place finish in 2008. As for his chances at Whistling Straits, Oosthuzien doesn’t know what to expect on the track that he had never played until Tuesday.

“I heard a few things about it,” he said. “It could scar me for life, I guess.  But looking forward to just going out and seeing what it's like teeing off straight after this and then, yeah, hopefully the wind kicks up a little bit, but you don't want it too strong out here either.  So it should be fun.”

Regardless of how it turns out, it’s been an incredible year for Oosthuizen.

A LOOK AT THE WEATHER: What can we expect, weather-wise, for the final major championship of the year?

So far, it looks pretty good. The extended forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the low-to-mid-80s throughout the week, with a slight chance of thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday – really nothing out of the ordinary for a summer day in August.

CHECKING IN WITH THE U.S. OPEN CHAMP: It’s been a major championship season of surprises, and one of the biggest came when Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell triumphed in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in June.

Since then, life has changed dramatically for the Ulsterman.

“It's been great to be back in the States the last two weeks,” said McDowell, who hasn’t contended much since his major win. “You know, it was pretty busy back home, The Scottish Open, British Open and Irish Open were busy weeks as you can imagine.    It's been great to get back to the States.  Obviously I'm a little more recognized than maybe the last time I was here and it's been an amazing response from people, you know, just lots of congratulations from people.”

McDowell was a little disappointed with his tie for 23rd at the Open Championship. He said it came a little too soon for him as he was still riding high from the win at Pebble Beach. Compounding that for McDowell was the fact that everyone kept reminding him he was the U.S. Open champ.

“It was difficult to come down from that high and I didn't really want to come down from that high,” McDowell said. “Obviously I wasn't as focused a golfer as I needed to be for the British Open.  I didn't have that dig deep and I putted badly from that 6-  to 10-foot region that you need to do at St. Andrews.  There's no doubt.  I wasn't ready.  I was ready physically but I wasn't ready mentally and you can't really substitute that ever.”

And is he ready this week at Whistling Straits?

“I felt like a bit of a weight came off my shoulders a bit last week and felt like I was flying under the radar last week,” McDowell said, referring to his tie for 22nd at Firestone. “I played great golf last week and had a good practice session here this week and I'm excited about playing golf again and that's the key.”
 
IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE: Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington was asked Tuesday what his reaction was to Tiger Woods’s tie for 78th at last week’s Bridgestone Invitational.

Honest as always, the Irishman said he hadn’t thought much about it.

“I certainly wasn't paying any attention myself apart from being asked about it after each round,” said Harrington, who tied for ninth at Firestone. “Players concentrate on their own game and we are out here long enough to realize that, you know, I think one of the first rules you learn when you come on Tour is the old, if you come off the golf course and you start talking about the round with other guys, they don't want to hear about your round of golf.”

Harrington said that seasoned professionals are conditioned to seeing the ups and downs of their peers and don’t get involved.

“It's the same with Tiger,” Harrington said. “We are just used to paying attention to what we are doing, knowing that we can't control what other people are doing, and really, it's the No. 1 rule of being a professional.  You don't get in any way involved in anybody else's form, good, bad, or indifferent.”