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Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Tale of Two South Africans

It's odd how two players can end up in such different circumstances, especially when those two players are friends and their games have been linked for so long.

Such is this week's change of fortune for two South Africans -- Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. Both burst onto the scene at around the same time. Both have won majors -- Louis won the 2010 Open Championship, Charl the 2011 Masters. But their careers seem to be out of phase lately.

Charl Schwartzel

This week, after struggling to find some consistency in his play, Charl has kicked it into gear at the Porsche European Open in Germany. And "kicked it into gear" is the right phrase, not just because Porsche is the title sponsor but because the leaderboard looks like the players are racing. The cut was -3, with a real jam of players at -3 and -4, while the three leaders are only at -10.

Charl is one of the leaders. Here's what he told ET commentator Jay Townsend after the round:

Ah yes, those putting problems. It seems like everybody has them, doesn't it?

Everybody except Louis. He's been putting lights-out this year, even posting consecutive runner-up finishes at the US Open and Open Championship this year, and looked to be on point for a good TOUR Championship... but he's started having physical problems again. talked to him about this turn of events.

Louis Oosthuizen

Tuesday Louis discovered a lump in his left wrist. It turned out to be something called a ganglion cyst, which isn't cancerous and hospital personnel near the East Lake course were able to drain it. He hoped that would solve the problem, and it did...

The wrist problem, that is. He had been having some hamstring problems in his right leg since Sunday, and during his first round Thursday it became bad enough that it started affecting his swing. After 13 holes he withdrew, perhaps hoping -- like Jim Furyk, who withdrew with right wrist pain last week -- that he can get well in time for the Presidents Cup in a couple of weeks.

It's good to see Charl scoring well again; it's been nearly two years since he last won a tournament and it would be nice to see him back in the winner's circle. And it's been good to see Louis back in contention, given the injuries he's faced sporadically over the last few years.

But it sure seems as if the South African duo just can't catch a break lately. Maybe Charl can change their luck with a win this week and some of it will rub off on Louis.

We can all hope.

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