Q&A: Louis Oosthuizen, 2010 Open champion

Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship.

Under blue skies and a brilliant sun, I strolled the Old Course at St. Andrews on the eve of the 2010 Open Championship. Along the first fairway, flags snapped in the wind on the top of the iconic yellow scoreboard, only steps away from the tee box and the R&A's clubhouse. The North Sea, only a few hundred yards away, was covered with whitecaps and, as I walked, a metal guardrail creaked then tipped over in what the Scots at the Dunvegan Hotel's pub would later call, "A wee bit o'breeze."

Louis Oosthuizen had won the European Tour's Open de Andalucia four months earlier, but having missed the cut in all three of his previous Open Championship appearances, the South African wasn't even an afterthought at St. Andrews. Broadcasters and scribes alike could hardly pronounce his last name, but on Sunday night, after he'd blown away the field at the home of golf and won by seven shots over Lee Westwood, King Louis was crowned champion golfer of the year and awarded the Claret Jug.

I recently sat down with Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen, 30, who still lives on his beloved farm in South Africa, and discussed his golf equipment and approach to selecting gear.

• • •

Usually the winner of the Masters is asked to donate a club to Augusta National from his winning bag. You scored a double eagle using a 4-iron on Sunday in 2011 on the second hole. It was the first ever made there during a Masters. Did Augusta National ask you for that club?

No. I had Ping make 57 4-irons for my charitable foundation which were logoed up and had certificates made up to go along with them. I gave No. 2 to Augusta National. Number one is at my house, and I think my caddie [Wynand Stander] has No. 4.

• • •

You play Ping S56 irons, but at Doral you decided to go with i20 long irons. Since then you've taken the i20s out, but what made you decide to test them and put them into play?

I was just trying to find some irons that would help me hit the ball a little higher, and the i20s do that. But I struggled a little bit when it got windy. I wasn't really swinging it too well at the beginning of the season so I tried them, but now it's back to the old stuff.

• • •

If you are not swinging well, is that the time to look for new gear?

Well, I mean, a lot of times you can actually find a club that helps you and lets you get away with a few loose shots. But once you get your swing back under control, you just put the old stuff back in because you know that works.

• • •

Why were you trying to hit the ball higher in the first place?

I couldn’t get a good flight on my long irons a few months back, so going in with a 3- and 4-iron and coming in that flat, I couldn't really get the ball to stop on the greens. So I wanted to get a little more height. The i20s definitely made that a little easier than the S56s. But now, with the [S56] 3- and 4-irons back in my bag, I feel like I can work the ball a little better, and I'm getting the flight that I want.

• • •

You play all over the world, from South Africa to Europe to the United States. The courses on the PGA Tour seem to reward guys who hit the ball high. Is it challenging to find equipment that lets you hit all the shots you'll need to play everywhere you go?

You don't need to hit it like that on all the golf courses here. It's definitely an advantage it you can hit it high, especially going into par 5s. But a lot of times you're going with 6-, 7- or 8-irons into par 4s, and you hit those high anyway. But I like being able to hit all kinds of different shots. In Europe we often have to hit it low, but sometimes you need to hit it high as well, so it's nice to have all those shots in your bag. Generally, my ball flight is lower than most of the players on tour because I grew up on the coast, playing in the wind.

• • •

Do you have multiple sets of clubs?

No, I have one set and it travels with me all the time. I take my clubs with me wherever I go.

• • •

You won the 2010 Open Championship using a Ping Rapture V2 driver and though you're using an Anser driver now, you've gone back to that driver once or twice in the past. Is it hard for you to find a driver that you really like?

I went back to the Rapture V2 just for a few weeks, basically, because I was not swinging great, and I was spinning it too much with the Anser. With the Rapture, I got the nice, flat flight again. But then I started swinging better again and the Anser became a better fit for me and the Rapture didn't work. I mean, you just know what you used to do with the old club.

[Note: Oosthuizen finished first in driving accuracy at the 2010 British Open and third in average driving distance.]

• • •

Your fairway woods are not exactly the latest offering from Ping. The G5 fairways are a few generations old. What is it about them that appeals to you and helps your game?

The Ping guys are going to struggle to get those out of my bag. The 3-wood is probably the hardest club to find in your bag, but my 3-wood, I can hit it 4 feet off the ground if I want to hit a low runner just to get it into the fairway. I can basically do whatever I want with it.

• • •

Ping recently came out with the Tour Wedge with Gorge Grooves, but you're sticking with Tour-S wedges.

I've tried the Tour with Gorge Grooves, and I felt like they dug a little bit into the ground for me, for the way that I hit them, and you know, I really like my wedges. I was going to try to change, but I'm chipping well and pitching well, so I don't really want to mess around with it.

• • •

Do you spin the ball a lot?

No, but I spin the ball the way that I want to. I don't want to spin it too much because then it can be difficult to control your distances, but around the greens I'm fine getting a little check when I want to.

• • •

In an age of putters that are now coming in all shapes and sizes, your Ping ZB is about as minimalist as things get. Have you always preferred blades like this one?

I always try different putters, but I also wind up going back to the ZB. I like it because when I put it down it's quite square and to my eye, that's nice. I don't know, but whenever I put it down I feel like it's aiming where I want it to. Sometimes, on downhill putts or left to right putts, I struggle to get a good roll with other putters and just don't feel like the weight is as good as the ZB.

• • •

My Bag: Louis Oosthuizen

DRIVER: Ping Anser (9.5 degree) with a Mitsubishi Diamana 'ahina 60X shaft

FAIRWAY WOODS: Ping G5 (15, 18 degree) with Fujikura Motore Speeder shafts

IRONS: Ping S56 (3-9) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

WEDGE: Ping Tour-S (47, 54, 60 degree) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

PUTTER: Ping Scottsdale ZB

BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

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