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Charl had watched part of the final round at Augusta National on the television in the sitting room adjacent to the players' locker room, along with Nel-Mare and other members of Louis's family. Immelman watched in his Augusta rental house. Els sat through the coverage at his house in Jupiter, Fla., seeing his protégé come just as close to the green jacket as he has.
"He did everything right to win," Els says. "Everything he needed."
When the playoff ended, Nel-Mare found Louis, gave him a hug and let the silence envelop them.
"You don't say anything for 10 minutes," Nel-Mare says. "We went back to the room—and maybe this is a South African thing—but the way we get over things is by making jokes. That's what we did. He was heartbroken, but what can you do?"
Nel-Mare's favorite joke was one told by an Australian caddie a week later when Louis bounced back to win the Malaysian Open, for which the champion is awarded a navy blue jacket.
"Hey, Louis," Nel-Mare says, repeating the caddie's joke. "I hear blue is the new green."
Louis seems like a good bet to win more majors, maybe in San Francisco, because the balance in his life is as good as the balance in his swing. Nel-Mare and their two daughters, Jana, 2, and Sophia, five months, travel the tours with Louis, and they wouldn't have it any other way. (The family recently purchased a house in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., as a home base when Louis is in the U.S.) He has an epic British Open win and one of the most memorable near misses in Masters history. You will not find a happier person than Louis Oosthuizen.
Cowen says that Louis could be the best in the world if he had more desire. Els says he hopes to tell Louis that he must prepare for Olympic as if he has never done it before.
"Hopefully, I will have a word with him and make sure his game is set," Els says.
What does Louis say about the contention that he needs to show a little more fire?