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Oosthuizen Reflects on Rise through the Ranks

 Louis Oosthuizen

As the European Challenge Tour Members prepare for this week's Stanbic Zambia Open, South African Louis Oosthuizen cast his mind back to last year’s event at the Lusaka Golf Club and marvelled at his progress through the professional golfing ranks since finishing tied for fifth place in Zambia.


Oosthuizen, at 21 years old, is still in the infancy of his career but the experience he accumulated on the 2003 Challenge Tour matured him beyond his years – so much so that, after finishing 25th on the Rankings with €36,383, he went on to win his European Tour Card at the Qualifying School Finals last November.

None of that would have happened without his Challenge Tour schooling. Oosthuizen’s education began at the Ernie Els Foundation in his native South Africa, before furthering his golfing mind on the Challenge Tour.

He finished joint fifth in his first appearance at the Stanbic Zambia Open 12 months ago, before put himself through the intense, but ultimately rewarding, experience of life on the professional golf circuit.

Luis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen admits that he went through what can only be described as a culture shock when he embarked on a Challenge Tour journey that took him from Zambia to Russia with stops in Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Mallorca among others along the way.

The South African’s adventure encapsulates the true spirit of the Challenge Tour. Here was an up and coming young professional experiencing life on the road, and all the ups and downs that go with the territory in the world of golf.

“I didn’t think I would have come this far in a year – you can’t imagine how much I’ve matured on the course – and in general in the space of 12 months,” said Oosthuizen.

“This is a really exciting time for me and I have to keep on trying to improve, hopefully at the same rate over the next year. I’ve got better in most departments of my game, especially my short game. I worked really hard on that and it has become so much better.

Louis Oosthuizen
“I think the experience I have gathered over the last year or so has really helped as well, not just on the course. The Challenge Tour really helped with that.”

While it would be churlish to suggest that every player who joins the Challenge Tour will reap rewards from it, there is no doubting the fact that, if they have the potential, the skill and the hunger to succeed then it is the best route towards the top echelons of European golf.

And, while no player who has reached the pinnacle of The European Tour International Schedule ever wants to return to the Challenge Tour, it is telling that those who have graduated from the Rankings will never forget where they came from.

Oosthuizen is certainly one such player. “It’s a strange situation because you never want to go back to the Challenge Tour for obvious reasons,” he concurs, “but I will always think of it is an invaluable experience.

“For me, mentally, the Challenge Tour was massive because of the amount of time that I had to spend away from home and the range of places that I visited. It really prepares you for The European Tour and makes you realise how much you want to go all the way.”

Courtesy of www.europeantour.com

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