Masters 2012: Why Louis Oosthuizen Is a Serious Contender

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IApril 8, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa gestures after completing the third round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Golf is a sport full of Cinderella stories, and this year's belongs to Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.  Here's a guy who has come to the Masters the past three years, only to leave after Day 2 after not making the cut each time.  This year, however, has been different.

As of now, Oosthuizen is in third place and just two strokes behind leader Peter Hanson.  He has looked great all tournament long and seems to have made quite the transition from pretender to serious contender.  Thus, his performance at Augusta in 2012 is anything but a fluke.

Sure, Oosthuizen's track record in major tournaments is anything but glorious.  Except for winning The Open Championship in 2010 and tying for ninth in last year's U.S. Open, he has found himself either cut or not playing, for the most part.

Yet, he has clearly adjusted his game this year (or just has a major lucky streak going for him) as he is making a serious charge at Augusta.  The fact that he finds himself in this position at the Masters after not making the cut the previous three years is beyond incredible.  Of course, that isn't to say that the rest of his journey will be easy.

While third place is a great accomplishment for Oosthuizen, he still trails both Phil Mickelson and Hanson.  Mickelson has momentum in his favor after an incredible Day 3, not to mention that he has experience on his side after winning the Masters three times.  In Hanson's case, chances are he's going to be hanging onto his lead for dear life from the moment he tees off.

More importantly, Oosthuizen has some heavy competition right on his tail.  Bubba Watson, with whom he is paired, trails him by just one stroke and veteran Lee Westwood could easily have a great day of his own as he charges towards top position.

Of course, given his play at Augusta this year, Oosthuizen is more than capable of handling adversity.  He has stayed focused throughout the tournament and is in prime position to make a charge of his own.  It won't be easy, but he can do it.

Even if he doesn't win, Oosthuizen's name should be placed among the greats.  To play in the Masters for three years and not make the cut, only to come back a fourth time and do this well is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly since he's right behind the veteran Mickelson.

In the future, writing him off won't be so easy.  Should he win, he'll never be written off again because even if you win the Masters only once, it's proof that you're a contender.