The British Open ended today, in case you just woke up from a nap caused by the British Open. Louis Oosthuizen's victory, a seven-shot win produced by a methodical series of scores (65-67-69-71) as the rest of the field fell back time and again, wasn't exactly exciting. To put it kindly, it was a sort of soothing, steady golf Oosthuizen played, minimizing mistakes and striking the ball accurately to give himself birdie putts. Less charitably, it was as boring as golf gets.
His best moment may have come after his final round, when he wished Nelson Mandela a happy birthday. It was a sweet nod to the South African leader for the sixth South African to win a major. It's also hard not to construe Oosthuizen's win, with a black caddie, Zack Rasego, on the bag, on Mandela's birthday as some major blow for racial equality.
He and his caddie don't see it that way, but their character-not-color approach itself is proof of how far South Africa's come.
â‡¥â‡¥“As South Africans, we are a rainbow team,” Rasego said. “But really it’s politics aside. It’s a sport. We cannot put politics into sport.”â‡¥â‡¥Those are heartwarming words to hear, and though South Africa hasn't and won't totally banish the demons of the nation's tortured past, this win and the successful staging of a wonderful World Cup in the nation has shown it's come a long, long way since apartheid.
â‡¥â‡¥Rasego said he and Oosthuizen did not emphasize race in their relationship. “When I look at Louis, I look at him as a person, and he looks at me as a person,” he said. “It’s not our backgrounds or anything. At the end of the day, he’s my boss, and I respect him as a boss, and it’s not about color. I mean, if I do good, then he appreciates what I do. It’s totally not about color.”â‡¥â‡¥
Society's gain might be golf's loss, though. Those kids who watched Oosthuizen win today might wonder why anyone would willingly play a sport designed to create somnolence.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.