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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well, Not Everybody's Turning Down a PGA Card

Well, after so many foreign players have decided to stay on their home tours, the PGA Tour is probably relieved to have some more players accept the invitation to play over here. Graeme McDowell, who qualified by winning the US Open, had already accepted membership while Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, and Ryo Ishikawa had turned it down.

Monday saw two more players join McDowell -- Louis Oosthuizen, who qualified by winning the Open Championship, and Charl Schwartzel, who qualified via the "match the 125 money list in 7 sponsor exemptions" route.

Both players were groomed through Ernie Els's golf program in South Africa, and I must admit wondering if the two men chose to take membership simply to hang around him more and maybe get more chances to learn from him. I can certainly think of worse reasons to join!

Let me give you a little background on the two. (The photos are from their bios at Obviously both are European Tour members and, since I haven't heard anything different, I suspect they intend to retain dual membership. Ernie does the same, and is currently 6th in the Race to Dubai.

Photo of Louis Oosthuizen from augusta.comLouis Oosthuizen has been one of the quieter guys on the ET. His play has been a little uneven this year, but his Open win wasn't as much of a surprise as some may have thought. Although he didn't do well in most of the majors this year, Louis had a 5th at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, 2nd at the Trophée Hassan II, and a win at the Open de Andalucia de Golf before he ever played the Masters.

After winning the Open, he posted a 4th at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters, a 9th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and a 4th at the KLM Open. After that he injured his foot -- the story is that he did it on the tractor he bought after winning the Open -- and his only appearance since then was the WGC in China, where he placed 72nd. Hopefully he'll be healed up in time for 2011. He's currently 10th in the Race to Dubai.

Photo of Charl Schwartzel from augusta.comCharl Schwartzel was a guy I thought might contend in the majors this year. He won twice early on the ET -- at the Africa Open and Joberg Open -- and had a couple of seconds, one of which came at the WGC-CA Championship where Ernie Els beat him out. His play the rest of the year was a mixed bag; and after placing 16th at the WGC in China, he's missed both cuts in Singapore and Hong Kong. He's currently 8th in the Race to Dubai.

These two guys should be good additions to the PGA Tour in 2011. And with Ernie Els available to mentor them a bit, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw both of them become regular contenders over the next few months.