Oosthuizen remains confident and is looking forward to the challenge in South Korea

Former British Open champion to debut at Blackstone Golf Club despite safety concerns

 Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa in action on Pro Am day prior to the start of the Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, South Korea. Photograph:  Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa in action on Pro Am day prior to the start of the Ballantine’s Championship at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, South Korea. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 19:27

Two top American players may have pulled out due to security concerns, but a private jet and some words of advice from Ernie Els have ensured Louis Oosthuizen heads the field for the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.

Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson withdrew from the event on Monday due to what tournament sponsors called “perceived unrest” on the Korean peninsula, while Spain’s Alvaro Quiros had previously said it was “stupid” to stage the event following threats from neighbouring North Korea.

However, former British Open champion Oosthuizen remained undeterred about making his debut at Blackstone Golf Club as he looks to put his Masters disappointment behind him.

The world number seven said: “I’ve seen a lot of this tournament on television and heard a lot of good things about it from Ernie, so it was an easy decision for me to make. Plus they made it even easier for me to come by putting up a plane all the way from the States over here, so that was really nice of them.

‘A good test’
“I’m looking forward to the week and looking forward to seeing what challenges the golf course presents. From the range it looks like some of the holes are quite tight off the tee, so it should be a good test.”

Oosthuizen surprisingly missed the cut at Augusta, where 12 months earlier he had lost out on a second Major title in a play-off with Bubba Watson. “My short game really let me down at the Masters, my putting wasn’t nearly good enough,” the South African said. “I had far too many putts and ended up missing the cut by two.

“I hit it okay – not great, but not terrible either – but around Augusta you need to putt really well, and the greens just got the better of me for the two days. But it hasn’t knocked my confidence too much.”

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger returns to defend his title and has some lofty ambitions after his win in Korea and subsequent triumph on home soil last year saw him finish 22nd in the Race to Dubai and reach as high as 64th in the world rankings.