I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than to hail not one but two winners and a host of other positive pointers for the 2012 season.
Take a bow Louis Oosthuizen and Scott Arnold for setting off theirs and ISM’s season with the loudest of bangs in South Africa and Australia respectively.
Louis had been threatening something special in the autumn of the 2011 season with a series of top 10’s and he turned that consistency into a successful defence of his Africa Open title. Three or four others threatened to spoil the party, but Louis was both defiant and determined to make it back-to-back wins in his homeland.
Expect more fireworks from Louis this season as he and close friend Charl Schwartzel develop their rivalry in much the same way that Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood have over the years.
Louis’ win captured the headlines, but there were plenty of other sidebars from ISM players in South Africa. Biggest among those was that of Matthew Baldwin whose closing four-under 69 gave him a very encouraging top 10 on his European Tour debut. Branden Grace wasn’t far behind and they were followed by David Howell, George Coetzee and Tyrone Ferreira while Chris Wood closed on 12 under for an encouraging start after missing the last three months through injury.
If there was a better example of perseverance paying off then we need look no further than Scott Arnold, the former amateur world number one, who has had anything but an easy start to his professional career.
Scott has found the transition from the unpaid to the paid ranks anything but easy, but has retained his enthusiasm and determination throughout and it all came together for him last weekend at the Victorian Open.
The Australian came from seven shots behind at halfway to claim his maiden title and now he can look forward to building on this breakthrough.