Louis Oosthuizen has been released in the 75-1 range for the PGA Championship in August after his win at the British Open.

Winning a major might do something for your confidence, but this is still absurd on a number of levels. Just look at last year’s major winners. Y.E. Yang parlayed his best ever career year into the PGA Championship and promptly returned to the spotty golfer he was before he won a major. Lucas Glover, while overall better on his career, played fantastic in 2009, but has basically returned to a career average since. That doesn’t even address Todd Hamilton, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Trevor Immelman, Michael Campbell, who have faired even worse after winning majors.

I tweeted yesterday that Louis Oosthuizen was a Graeme McDowell, Y.E. Yang, Rich Beem hybrid. Here’s what I mean:

2009-2010 Graeme McDowell: Oosthuizen and McDowell are almost identical over the past two years. Each had a middling 2009, followed by a world-wide top-15 2010. This seems to be a pattern of sorts with some of the more random majors winners. Career year turns into a major victory. Like McDowell, this is probably the best Oosthuizen will ever play. Unlike McDowell, Oosthuizen doesn’t have the stellar record of solid play, though Oosthuizen is a few years younger.

Career of Y.E. Yang: Overall, Oosthuizen is much more similar to Y.E. Yang. Some good years, some bad ones, hovering between solid world-wide player and slightly below PGA Tour average. The obvious exception is that Y.E. Yang’s best year was 2009 and that’s not even close to what Oosthuizen has done so far this year.

Majors record of Rich Beem: Coming into this British Open, Louis Oosthuizen had 18 rounds in major championships and was well below an average PGA Tour player. To the point that he’d be like a -130 favorite over Mitch Lowe(or the average golfer with less than 20 rounds on majors tours). Now, 18 is a small sample size, but I doubt any golfer has ever played as poorly in majors before winning one. Even after a 9-stroke win, Oosthuizen is still below PGA tour average in majors. Rich Beem is the only player I could think of who had won a major and still remained below average in them.

All this adds up to a much dimmer forecast that most people would expect for someone who just won a major championship by 9 strokes. It reasonable to expect Oosthuizen to remain a solid player for a long time, but if you only follow the four majors, it’s doubtful we will ever hear much from him. If you want another way to look at it, he’s basically Charl Schwartzel with a major.


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  1. Jamie

    I would say, having followed the careers of Oosthuizen and Schwartzel somewhat, that we will see more of them in major championships in the future.
    They are both still quite young and are likely to improve in the future (Schwartzel in particular has had a reputation for poor decision making which he is starting to lose as he matures). Many players can improve significantly in their late twenties or early thirties (Montgomerie being one, Goosen another, who were quite poor in their late twenties still). Yang is about 11 years older than Oosthuizen, so he was never going to improve much, if at all, after his PGA win – that’s not the case for the two young S.African players. I feel more inclined to agree with you about Mcdowell, who has been around a bit longer without much of an improvement.

    My last point is just to say I followed Schwartzel all the way for his third round at St Andrews and he only missed 2 greens in the 30 mph winds – he was excellent (not a very big sample size admittedly!), apart from the putting.

  2. Yeah, I might have come off a little too harsh. It’s reasonable to expect both of them to reside in the 30-60 range of the world. The problem with that is there are about 80 guys who have approximately the same chance of winning around that range and 10-15 who are significantly better. Oosthuizen or Schwartzel should top out at 150-1 or so to win a major, which makes it unlikely that either of them will win another.

    However, if you count top-10s and top-15s etc., they should definitely be able to “show up” in majors. By “show up” I mean finish well and never have one shot televised on (American) TV.

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