Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kamloops angle to British Open winner Oosthuizen

Daily News Sports Reporter
Before Louis Oosthuizen became famous for winning the British Open on Sunday, you might have been able to find him at The Dunes.
Chances are, you wouldn’t have recognized him — but you may well have walked right past him over the last two years. 
Oosthuizen, a South African, came out of nowhere to win the British Open golf championship at St. Andrews in Scotland on Sunday. Heading into the tournament, he was 54th in the World Golf Rankings.
Bill Bilton Jr., who runs his own golf academy at The Dunes, said Sunday that Oosthuizen has played at The Dunes in each of the last two years, possibly three. 
But, prior to winning on Sunday, Oosthuizen might have spent a week in Kamloops wearing a sign with his name on it, and most folks wouldn’t have given him a second look.  
“You’d never have known him,” said Bilton Jr., who didn’t know what Oosthuizen shot while on the Westsyde course.
Bilton Jr. said that Oosthuizen comes out and plays with Dr. Sven Kip, another South African who is a family practitioner and also works with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.
“They just booked a regular tee-time, showed up and played,” Bilton Jr. said. “He was just like any regular guy.”
Oosthuizen isn’t the only South African PGA player to make a stop at The Dunes.
Bilton Jr. said that Charl Schwartzel, who was ranked No. 25 in the world before finishing tied for 14th at the British Open, has come to Kamloops each of the last two Augusts.
Another trip to town for the South Africans might be on the schedule before the PGA Championship, but Bilton Jr. wasn’t sure.
The PGA Championship is scheduled for Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc.
“I don’t know why it’s so popular — maybe they come for the fishing and the golf,” Bilton Jr. said. “There is a decent South African contingent in our area.”


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