Still in doubt, Louis Oosthuizen hit balls on the new range Tuesday at Trump National Doral with the hope his ailing back will stand up – not just for 72 holes at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship but for upcoming stops at Tampa, Houston and eventually Augusta.
One thing that is clear: Oosthuizen’s back didn’t hold up during last week’s Honda Classic, as the South African withdrew before the tournament had started. His back has been an issue since last year, when it forced him out of the HP Byron Nelson, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
“It doesn’t feel like that at the moment, but I’ll see,” Oosthuizen said of whether he can play this week. “I played nine holes (Sunday), which was OK, but then I was really sore the next day.”
After taking time off, Oosthuizen received cortisone shots Thursday with hopes of reducing the inflammation in his back.
“We first want to just do the normal ones, cortisone ones, just to see,” Oosthuizen said of the medical options. “And the next, I think, is an epidural injection, which is a different route. We’ll see how this week goes.”
Oosthuizen, 31, winner of the 2010 Open Championship, missed two months of play after he withdrew from the Open Championship at Muirfield last July, returning to the Tour in September. He continued to have issues with his back, which prompted cortisone injections in his lower back in November.
After taking two weeks off, Oosthuizen found immediate relief in winning the Volvo Golf Champions in early January in his native South Africa, clearing countryman Branden Grace by a shot.
Oosthuizen struggled with his back two weeks ago during his quarterfinal match in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, losing to eventual champion Jason Day.
When Oosthuizen returned to his home in West Palm Beach, he decided to take the rest of the week off and did not come to PGA National at all, instead trying the ailing back out at The Bear’s Club on Wednesday, with negative results.
Because of his back injury, Oosthuizen cannot spend much time on the range. He instead practices on the course, which he finds difficult when working on changes to his game. After having missed the Honda, Oosthuizen wants “badly” to add the Valspar Championship next week at Innisbrook.
“I hope everything goes well through next week and then have two weeks off,” he said. “I’ll speak to my doctor to assess things, maybe get another scan and just have a look at what’s going on and then take it from there. Even if I have to miss Houston and just go up to Augusta, I’ll do that. There’s no way I’m not going to give Augusta a shot.”