News & Opinion

Green card mix-up baffles Oosthuizen

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – This week’s U.S. Open might be the only major Open that Louis Oosthuizen plays this year. Immigration issues could force the 2010 British Open champion to skip golf’s oldest major championship next month at Carnoustie in Scotland.

Born in South Africa, Oosthuizen, 35, has lived in the United States for roughly five years, but he never had applied for a green card, which grants permanent residency to non-U.S. citizens.

Now that the oldest of his three children, 8-year-old daughter Jana, is in school in Jupiter, Fla., Oosthuizen decided last summer to apply for a green card.

However, during the process, which averages 4-6 months, Oosthuizen said that he was told by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that two documents had been misplaced.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen must clear a bureaucratic hurdle in the U.S. before he can play in the British Open.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen must clear a bureaucratic hurdle in the U.S. before he can play in the British Open.

The government said that Oosthuizen would not have to reapply, but he would need to supply the missing documents.

Oosthuizen, with his family, returned to South Africa late in the year and then, after playing in the Masters, he made another visit to South Africa to be the best man at a friend’s wedding.

Upon returning to the U.S., Oosthuizen filed the missing papers in mid-April, not anticipating a problem.

After shooting a 4-over 74 in the first round Thursday at Shinnecock Hills (scores), Oosthuizen spoke about his uncertain future and his questionable status next month for the Scottish Open and British Open.

“I'm playing Travelers next week, and then I've got a bit of a situation,” he said. “I'm busy doing my green card, and I need a special permit to travel outside of the U.S. I don't have it yet. I'm waiting. I hope I get it in the next week or two. If I don't get the permit to travel, then I might miss both.”

If Oosthuizen were to leave the U.S. for the U.K. tournaments without the required travel documents or green card, his application would be voided, and he would have to start the process all over again.

“You’ve got the immigration lawyers that say there's not much you can do, and if you ask them [Citizenship and Immigration Services], they just say it's pending,” Oosthuizen said. “There's no one that can really say how far it is in the process.” 

Oosthuizen won the 2010 British Open and finished runner-up to Zach Johnson in 2015, both at St. Andrews.

If he fails to make the trip to Scotland, it would be the first time that he has missed the British Open since 2008.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email:; Twitter: @AlexMiceli