Louis Oosthuizen put himself in position to win the second major of his career this weekend at the U.S. Open. Over the first two rounds, the South African shot a 6-under par to sit three strokes behind the leader Gary Woodland.
If he’s able to surge ahead to win the championship on Sunday, he’ll be just the third player to win major championships at St. Andrews and Pebble Beach along with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, per Golf Channel. Oosthuizen also took home the Claret Jug at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
The 36-year old will have support this weekend in California by his wife Nel-Mare. Here’s what you need to know about the fellow South African.
1. “Nel-Mare” is a Combination of Dutch Names
The name Nel-Mare is a combination of a traditional Dutch surname and her maiden name. Nel is a shortened version of Cornelia, used in Dutch, English, German, Italian, and Romanian.
According to Ancestry.com, Mare is a nickname from the Germanic word mari or meri, which translates to “famous” or “renowned.” It is typically used as “de Mare,” meaning she was previously Nel de Mare. Once she married Oosthuizen, she appears to have combined her surname and maiden name and separated them with a hyphen (typical practice in the Dutch/Afrikaans culture).
Meanwhile, the source for Oosthuizen could come from a town in the Netherlands with the same name. According to an earlier article written about his nationality and ethnicity, his family is of Dutch ancestry.
2. Nel-Mare & Louis Married in 2007
According to our own Laura Amato, the couple have been married since 2007. They met at a young age in South Africa, as both are natives of the country. They married at NG Church in Mossel Bay, Louis’ hometown.
“Louis and Nel-Mare’s parents were family friends, and they visited each other often,” said Almari Alberts, Nel-Mare’s sister-in-law to the Sunday Times in 2010. “So the two of them knew each other from an early age. Louis was always taken with her.”
3. She Grew Up on a Farm Called Groendel Outside Prieska
According to the Sunday Times, Nel-Mare grew up on a farm called Groendel, which is located 125 km (77 miles) from the “dusty town” of Prieska. This farm borders the Orange River in the Northern Cape, with the nearest big city being Bloemfentein (nearly 400 km away).
Louis also grew up on a farm. He says that he comes from “humble beginnings” and the harbor city of Mossel Bay would suggest that. It’s a diverse community (40% black, 40% multiracial and around 17% white) that specializes in fishing, farming and natural gas/oil collection.
Farming is how Louis’ father Piet made a living. In Albertinia, he owned a dairy farm of about 110 cows. “Louis was not very keen for milking, but he did like driving the tractors,” Piet said to Golf.com in 2012.
4. They Relocated to Texas After Owning a Farm in South Africa
Their family has since relocated to Texas after running their own farm during the early years of their marriage. Per Amato, “the move surprised a lot of the pair’s close friends, particularly after Oosthuizen had put in so much work on the farm.”
He even once cut a deal after winning the Volvo Golf Champions pro-am to exchange the tournament prize from a car to a backhoe in order to work on the farm:
I’ve been nagging my wife for a few years that I want something on the farm as there are a few stumps and things I need to get rid of. So I’m going to play around with it and might dig out a few bunkers.
Per the Sunday Times in 2010, Nel-Mare hoped to get a chance to drive a new tractor, though the John Deere product “was a dream come true for her husband.”
“I think I will also get to drive it, I hope,” she said. “You know, a while back he said he wanted to buy a tractor and I told him, no, we don’t need it. But I said to him he may buy one after his next win. So know, I really can’t say anything. I know it’s a dream for him, and deserves to spoil himself.”
This was right after his 2010 Open Championship, which garnered him $1.35 million in prize money. Now, per Amato, they own a wine company and restaurant called Louis 57, which specializes in South African wines.
5. They Have 3 Daughters: Jana, Sophia, Emma
The couple have a trio of daughters. According to Louis’ PGA European Tour bio, Jana is the oldest and was born in 2010, and is followed by Sophia (2012) and Emma (2013).
Back in 2010, media took notice of Nel-Mare and Jana’s fashionable attire at the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm. They were dubbed the “Oosthuizen girls.” The media attention was overwhelming to Nel-Mare at the time.
“There are a lot of things going on that I am not used to: all the attention and media,” she told the Sunday Times. “I am very happy, and at the same time, tired.”
According to Nel-Mare’s Twitter page, the whole family attended a rodeo in Austin (Tex.) in 2016. Just months before, Sophia celebrated her birthday at a Texas ranch with horses.