For four days this week rivalry comes before friendship for Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen. The pair have already traded world rankings twice in the first few weeks of the year. Second spot in Abu Dhabi last week was enough for Rose to reclaim the no.4 ranking he lost after Oosthuizen, who won straight out of the box at the Volvo Champions in South Africa.
When asked which player he most likes to play with Rose has no hesitation in volunteering Oosthuizen, for his placid manner and rhythmic swing. “We are similar in many ways. He’s a great bloke first of all, and we both swing the club pretty well, I like to think,” said Rose, who gets his wish at the Qatar Masters in a marque group that also includes Martin Kaymer.
Rose has moved on from the disappointment of losing out over the closing holes in Abu Dhabi to Jamie Donaldson. He knows the trend is upwards, as his career-high ranking demonstrates, and expects to be contending on the last day in Doha. “It was disappointing not to win, obviously, having led for three rounds and having a two shot lead on the Sunday. But I look back on Sunday and feel like I made a lot of right decisions and did a lot of things very well.
“So I’m hoping that again this week is another good week to go out and test my game against a good golf course and a good field. That’s what I want all year long, just keep showing up, keep working hard and keep executing and that’s going to put me in position to win a lot of golf tournaments.”
Like Rose, Oosthuizen enjoyed a fine season in 2012 when he began to fulfil the potential revealed in his 2010 Open victory at St Andrews. Two European Tour victories and runner’s up spot at the Masters, where he lost in a play-off to Bubba Watson, propelled him into the world top five. With a swing regarded as the finest in the game Oosthuizen is aiming to reflect that in the ultimate rankings rise.
“I want to climb to no.1 if I can, but I always take it slowly and see how my game is,” Oosthuizen said. “I never try to set goals that I know are too tough to achieve or out of my reach. I feel like I’ve got a good shot at getting to no.2 at least by the end of the year. I’ll need to work hard on my game to get there and stay there, and then reduce the gap with me and Rory (McIlroy).”
Open champion Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and American, Jason Dufner, also stand in his way in another deep European Tour field, but it is Rose who constitutes the principal threat. “Justin is a great player,” Oosthuizen said. “The Ryder Cup and the win against (Phil) Mickelson (in the singles) was very special. You know he’s going to be up there on leaderboards