King Louis triumphs by seven shots
Louis Oosthuizen has marked Nelson Mandela’s birthday by becoming only the 4th South African to win the Open
Louis Oosthuizen made a childhood dream come true at St Andrews on Sunday when he joined Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els as one of only four South Africans to win the Open Championship.
And what’s more, he did it on the much-loved Nelson Mandela’s birthday extactly 150 years after the first Open was played.
The previously unheralded, 27-year-old also did it at the venue where every player wants to win, the Home of Golf, and what is more, he did it by lapping the field after Paul Casey’s big chance turned into a big disappointment.
Known as “Shrek”, Oosthuizen had no need to get too animated as he turned his four-shot overnight lead into an almost unbelievable seven-stroke triumph over “nearly man” Lee Westwood.
Casey, triple-bogeying the 12th and coming home in 40 for a 75, slipped to joint third with 21-year-old Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Swede Henrik Stenson.
Since 1913 there has been only one bigger victory in the event – Tiger Woods by eight over the same Old Course 10 years ago.
This time Woods was only 23rd.
Incredibly Oosthuizen came into the event a 200/1 outsider who had missed the halfway cut in seven of his previous eight majors and came last of those who made the cut in the other.
With a closing 71 and a 16 under par total of 272, three more than
Woods in 2000, he made sure of tipping his cap and toasting Ernie Els, whose Foundation gave him his career lift-off as a teenager.
His first major title earned him £850,000 and moves him up to 15th in the world.
“It’s unbelievable – just amazing,” said Oosthuizen.
“It’s probably going to hit me tomorrow or the week after. I felt like I played well all week and the biggest goal for me was to stay cool.
“I’d like to have kept the record of not going in the bunker (like Woods in 2000), but I went in one on the 14th.
“It became a bit difficult having a big lead, but I’m glad I had all those shots in hand on the 17th.”
Westwood, who lost by one after a closing bogey at Turnberry last year and was runner-up to Phil Mickelson at The Masters in April, is not going to beat himself up too much over this one.
“I know what I’ve got to do – improve,” he said after his 70. “I’m showing a lot of consistency, but it’s not quite good enough.
“I’m not sure what it is quite. I keep putting myself in position and in contention – that’s all I can do.
“I didn’t get off to a quick enough start today. I thought if I could turn in five under anything was possible, but it was difficult out there.
“The pin positions were tough. This is not an easy course when there’s a 20mph wind blowing.
“And Louis is obviously playing really well.”
Casey will spend far more time than his Ryder Cup teammate thinking what might have been – and so will McIlroy after starting with a major championship record-equalling 63 and following it with an 80 in Friday’s 40mph gusts.
The youngster came back with rounds of 69 and 68, but the damage had already been done in that disastrous second round.
Just before they teed off Casey had not looked wholly convincing on the practice putting green and after a superb approach to five feet on the first he missed the chance to cut the gap instantly to three.
It was not his putter to blame for the bogey on the second, though. He came up short of the green and, after chipping 20 feet past, bogeyed to fall five back.
Meanwhile, Oosthuizen, 44 places below him at 54th in the world, showed no sign of frailty as he calmly parred the first five holes.
However, although he added another at the next, Casey birdied from four feet and when the leader failed to get up and down from just off the green at the short eighth the difference was down to three.
Both drove the green on the 352-yard ninth, but when Oosthuizen holed from over 40 feet for an eagle two the tournament was back in his firm grip.
With Casey making birdie it was still between the two of them, but even with the Road Hole 17th to come the outcome was effectively decided by the 348-yard 12th, innocuous by comparison.
Oosthuizen reduced it to a drive, a pitch and a 15-foot birdie putt.
Casey, on the other hand, went in gorse, took a penalty drop, was short in three, long in four and with a seven his Claret Jug hopes were buried barring a total collapse from the man he was playing with.
It was his second triple bogey of the week. The other, at the 17th in round two, was one he could come back from.
This one will stick far longer in the memory.
Oosthuizen’s only mistake on the back nine came when it did not matter, a five at the nasty 17th Road Hole.
THE LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN FACTFILE
1982: Born October 19, Mossel Bay (full name Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen)
1999: Joins Ernie Els Foundation, receiving guidance and financial support from his fellow South African.
2000: Wins World Junior Team Championship with Charl Schwartzel.
2002: Wins Irish Amateur Open Stroke Play title before turning professional with a handicap of plus six. Shoots a 14-under-par round of 57 at his home course of Mossel Bay.
2003: Gains his European Tour card at the qualifying school in November.
2004: Finishes 74th on the Order of Merit, recording two top-10 finishes.
2005: Fails to qualify for the Open at St Andrews and finishes 139th on the money list, returning to the qualifying school at the end of the season to regain his card.
2007: Wins three times in South Africa and enjoys best season yet in Europe, finishing 64th on the money list.
2009: Comes close to winning first tour title, recording back-to-back second places in the Abu Dhabi Championship (behind Paul Casey) and Qatar Masters.
July – Misses halfway cut in Open at Turnberry and is a collective 23 over par for his three Open appearances to date.
2010: March – Wins first tour title in the Open de Andalucia, thereby moving into the world’s top 50 and qualifying for the US Masters.
April – Misses cut at Augusta after rounds of 75 and 77.
June – Misses cut in US Open at Pebble Beach with rounds of 77 and 74.
July – Wins Open Championship at St Andrews by seven shots. Held a five-shot lead at halfway and a four-stroke lead over Casey going into the final round.
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