On Wednesday, Louis Oosthuizen had to pull out of the pro-am for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the penultimate event on the European Tour schedule and the tournament dubbed Africa's major.
It seemed as though the 2010 Open champion might have to withdraw from a tournament where he was an 8-to-1 pre-event favorite.
However, Oosthuizen was able to play in Thursday's first round, and he took advantage of the opportunity and Gary Player Country Club in Sun City to fire an opening-round 63 to take the lead. Oosthuizen's 9-under round gives him a three-shot edge over Thomas Detry and a four-shot lead over Guido Migliozzi.
“Considering that at 3 a.m. this morning, I didn't think I was doing going to tee it up, I'm very chuffed with that round," Oosthuizen said after the round. "I woke yesterday with kidney stones and this morning was very uncomfortable, but it sort of eased at 6, 7 a.m. You could see me walking slower and just going at everything a little slower out there."
Despite dominating on home soil in his career, including winning the South African Open this year as part of five European Tour-sanctioned wins in South Africa, Oosthuizen is yet to win the Nedbank. He has been in the top 10 in three of his last four starts in this event.
Oosthuizen finished solo third and two shots out of a playoff in his last start at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, so he knew the game was in form if he could just get to the first tee at a course he enjoys.
“I know I played good at the WGC-HSBC Champions two weeks ago and I know the swing is there, the putting's there. I just need to be healthy to play," he said.
“I just love this golf course. One of my first wins on the Sunshine Tour was here, the Dimension Data, and every time I play here, it brings back a lot of good memories.”
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai standings after this week are eligible for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. However, this week is no stepping stone. The winner receives $2.5 million from the $7.5 million purse, marking the biggest first-place tournament payout in the world this year.