DOHA - Louis Oosthuizen fancies himself as a future world number one despite Rory McIlroy showing no signs of slipping down from the summit any time soon.
McIlroy is far ahead in the rankings with 593.71 points at the top as compared to Oosthuizen's 345.24, but the South African is convinced his time will come as he prepared for the 2.5 million dollar Qatar Masters beginning on Wednesday.
"I want to climb up the world rankings to number one if I can, but I always take it slowly and see how my game is," Oosthuizen said on Monday after a practice round at Doha Golf Club where he and fellow South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will be hoping to deny Scotsman Paul Lawrie an unprecedented third title.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, added, however, that he is ready to bide his time to achieve his ambition, saying he prefers taking one tournament at a time.
"I never try to set goals that I know are too tough to achieve or out of my reach. I feel like I've got a good shot at getting to number two at least by the end of the year," said the 30-year-old, who was joint runner-up behind Spaniard Alvaro Quiros in 2009.
"I'll need to work hard on my game to get there and stay there, and then reduce the gap with me and Rory."
Oosthuizen is riding a wave of confidence after winning the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in South Africa this month, a factor he hoped would help him put in an impressive show in Doha.
"Any win early in the season gets your confidence really high. I feel like I'm swinging it really well at the moment and making the odd long putt. This week the greens are really big and I think we'll have a lot of birdie opportunities, so the longer putts will be crucial."
Meanwhile, Els is considering himself a serious contender for a second Qatar Masters title. The four-time major winner will be hoping to join Adam Scott (2002, 2008) and holder Lawrie (1999, 2012) as a two-time champion.
"I have good memories of the Qatar Masters, especially after I won in 2005 when I played really well on the final day (shooting a 65). I enjoyed going back to Doha the next few years and also played pretty well in 2007, when I came third and Retief was champion," said the "Big Easy".
"I've played well over the past year and I'd certainly expect to be a contender this time. It would be great to start the year by lifting the Mother of Pearl Trophy for a second time, especially after lifting the Claret Jug for a second time last year."
Goosen, who won in Qatar in 2007, is ready for his eighth appearance in Doha where he will bid to add to his 14 European Tour victories.
"I always like returning to a course where I've won before and it's nice that Ernie will also be playing this year. We've played together in the event a few times and it'll be good to do that again," said Goosen.
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