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What has Els seen from his protégé? What does he want for Louis's career?
"He has to be mentally strong and have a purpose," Els says. "When he is on, I don't think many people in the world can beat him. But we don't always see that from him. I'd like to see him get a little more fire up his a--."
On the eve of the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, with its tree-lined, bending fairways, the 29-year-old Oosthuizen should be on any short list of potential winners. (He tied for ninth at Congressional last year.) Over the past two years, no golf swing has been more quietly appreciated for its wonderful tempo and effortless power.
"If you were to compare it, it might be Sam Snead in the old days because of the rhythm," says Butch Harmon.
"So natural, so free-flowing, so fantastically balanced," says 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman.
"He has such fluidity, he looks great letting the club go," adds John Senden, another Tour pro.
"He was almost a raw, uncut diamond when I got him," says Cowen, who has worked with Oosthuizen since he turned professional in 2003. "He has a swing very similar to Rory McIlroy's but probably a little more technically sound and very pleasing to the eye. He is almost hyper-mobile. It's almost like watching a gymnast with elastic muscle, which is a lot more pleasing to look at than a muscle-bound gymnast would be."
When Louis was 10, he swung a golf club for the first time, taking a swipe with an iron belonging to his older brother, Rikus. They were indoors on their father's dairy farm and hitting tennis balls when Rikus came to a conclusion.
"We should get him a few clubs because he hits the ball every time," Rikus told their father, Piet. "He never misses."
Louis soon took up the game at Albertinia Golf Club, a nine-holer with sand greens so small that the longest putt you could have was a 15-footer. As with hunting, Louis was smitten with the challenge. He played off a handicap of 30.