Louis Oosthuizen is confident he is over his injury problems and says he will be able to commit to a full schedule next season.
The South African played fewer events than usual throughout 2015 after being troubled by issues with his back in previous seasons, and has enjoyed a consistent campaign despite not being able to add to his 12 career professional titles.
Oosthuizen produced one of the performances of the year at the US Open when he recovered from an opening 77 with superb rounds of 66, 66 and 67 to finish just a stroke behind Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay.
He also came agonisingly close to repeating his 2010 Open Championship victory at St Andrews as he lost out to Zach Johnson in a four-hole play-off, and he was going well in the FedExCup Play-Offs until he was forced to pull out of the Tour Championship due to a hamstring injury.
Oosthuizen also withdrew from the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to make sure he was fit for the Presidents Cup, and the move paid handsome dividends when he won all four of his matches with Branden Grace and then eagled the final hole to snatch a half with Patrick Reed in Sunday’s singles.
The 39-year-old has an outside chance of claiming the Race to Dubai title at this week’s DP World Tour Championship, his third event of five in a row, and he feels in excellent condition as he bids to end the season on a high.
“My back is really good at the moment, and I’ve been working hard to get it right,” he said. “My schedule has been a bit different this year, and withdrawing from the Dunhill Links put me in a bit of a tough spot and forced me to play five events in a row at the end of the season.
“But it’s all good. I feel strong and I’m feeling fine for the next three events. It’s just makes things a bit difficult to judge how my body feels without having a week off, I’ll just work my schedule out around that.”
Oosthuizen admitted the hamstring injury he suffered in September was a tough blow mentally as well as physically, and he added: “Sometimes it gets to you a bit, I think it’s more frustration than anything else, especially when you’re playing pretty decent but not being able to get enough rounds in to build up some momentum.
“That’s the only thing that gets me down a bit, but I’m feeling really good now and I feel I can play a proper schedule next season.”
Oosthuizen’s swing has long been the envy of his fellow professionals, and he has made only minor adjustments to combat his back problems. “The changes I’ve made were mainly to do with posture and structure,” he said. “I needed to do some work and there were certain exercises I needed to do and I went to see the right people to help me.
“Swing wise, I’ve made a few small changes and I have to just live with it. There are certain shots I don’t try to hit any more as they put my body in a bad spot.”
Reflecting on his 2015 season, Oosthuizen described his year as “pretty average” although he was very pleased with his performances in the majors, World Golf Championships and the Presidents Cup.
“It’s not over yet, and obviously it would be nice to get a win before the end of the season,” he said. “I did well in the majors this year and in a couple of WGCs, but I’m still working hard on being more consistent and being up there every week like all the top players.
“I had another great week at The Open, and St Andrews brings out the best in me. Playing for the Claret Jug, the golf course, all the history, and when I get there I’m able to lift my game to a different level somehow. I feel very comfortable around the Old Course, I see the shots on every hole and it just suits me.
“And the Presidents Cup was just an incredible week, there just wasn’t enough of it! It’s so much fun playing as a team. Branden was great that week and the two of us just clicked from the start. We played really good golf together and we lifted each other’s games. It would be nice to stick together and do that again in the next Presidents Cup.
“I think it would be nice to have a team competition at the Olympics next year rather than just individual. It would have been nice to have the same format as the World Cup of Golf, with fourballs and foursomes. I don’t think there are enough team events in professional golf, and they are always fun weeks. You’re not just playing for yourself, you’ve got others around you and supporting you and that’s a great feeling.”
Oosthuizen has also been impressed with the raft of young talent emerging on both the European and PGA Tours, and admits he will have to lift his game next year to stay competitive.
“It’s great to see all the youngsters coming through,” he said. “Matt Fitzpatrick, in particular, has played some really good golf this year. Emiliano Grillo just got his PGA Tour card by winning the first event of the season, and I enjoyed playing with him in Shanghai.
“It makes the older guys work a bit harder. I’m not a youngster any more and I need to lift my game to keep up and compete with everyone. Guys like Danny Willett and Fitzpatrick will have another good season next year, and Thomas Pieters is another great player with a big future.
“Hopefully we will see a few South African youngsters coming through, and I hope the older guys can do something as well. We’re not out of it yet!”