‘King Louis’ reigns at DCC

2014-01-13 00:00

THE script could not have been written any better as Louis Oosthuizen edged out fellow South African Branden Grace to defend his title and win the Volvo Golf Champions by one shot at Durban Country Club yesterday.

Oosthuizen (-12) was made to birdie the last two holes to avoid a play-off against Grace, and he did so with the unflappable approach that has been an unwavering feature of his game over the last four days.

Grace had made things difficult for his countryman after the international challenges of overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood (England), Victor Duboisson (France) and Joost Luiten (Holland) failed to maintain any real momentum on what was the hottest of the four days at DCC.

Fleetwood had made a birdie on the par-three second with a monster putt, and that suggested that he would pick up where he left off on Friday and Saturday, but three bogeys in the space of five holes meant that he was unable to improve on his overnight score as he carded an even par 72 to stay on –10.

Starting the day three shots behind leader Fleetwood and one behind Oosthuizen, Grace birdied the sixth, seventh and eighth as he made his charge to the top of the leaderboard to be one of three players to hold the outright lead.

It looked like Grace had done enough when he birdied 16 to move into a share of the lead with Oosthuizen, and then 18 to finish with a 68 and a clubhouse lead of -11 after he had done a remarkable job of recovering from his opening round 74, when it seemed that he would not be troubling the leaders over the weekend.

Oosthuizen approached the green on 17 aware that Grace had moved into the lead in the pairing ahead of him.

“I could see the leaderboard change up ahead me on 18 and I knew that Branden had finished with a birdie,” said Oosthuizen after his victory. “I had to give myself an opportunity. As I hit it I knew the line was perfect. That was probably the winning shot.”

Oosthuizen’s sand wedge from just over 110 metres was hit straight at a pin that was located ominously close to the bunker on the left of the green. When he plugged it within three feet in what was the shot that ultimately won him the tournament, the momentum swung back his way with only the 18th — the shortest par four and most birdied hole on the course — to come.

King Louis didn’t disappoint — his drive running just off the back of the green before a composed up and down saw him tap in for birdie and the win.

Fleetwood and Dubuisson still had to finish, but it would take a hole in one from the Englishman to force a play-off.

“I felt really comfortable out there, especially with my irons,” said Oosthuizen, the world number 34. “It feels good now. It was nerve-wracking out there.”

Oosthuizen was full of praise for Grace.

“I knew that Branden would play well today. He does when he is in a situation where he can win it. It forced me to focus,” he said. “He is the type of player who can finish with four or five birdies in a row. I knew that he wasn’t going away.”

Oosthuizen’s win means that South Africans have now won the last three editions of the tournament, with Grace winning in 2012.

“The home crowds really spurred us along. I think we just love playing in South Africa. Hopefully they keep the tournament here next year,” said Oosthuizen.

Grace, appropriately, was graceful in defeat.

“I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there, which was unfortunate, but it was a good one. If you told me that I would start off with a second place finish in my first event, coming close, I would have taken it,” he said. “But the winner at the end of every week is the true champion. Louis played very well and he deserves it.”

SCORECARD

276 - Louis Oosthuizen

277 - Branden Grace

278 - Joost Luiten, Tommy Fleetwood

279 - Raphael Jacquelin, Victor Dubuisson, Padraig Harrington

281 - Thomas Aiken, Julien Quesne

283 - Matteo Manassero, Brett Rumford, Thomas Bjorn

284 - Jamie Donaldson, Morten Orum Madsen

285 - Charl Schwartzel, Marcel Siem, Miguel Angel Jimenez

286 - Chris Wood

287 - Paul Casey, Mikko Ilonen, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

288 - Jin Jeong, David Lynn

289 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, David Howell

291 - Richard Sterne

292 - Michael Hoey, Stephen Gallacher

293 - Simon Thornton

294 - Robert Karlsson

295 - Dawie van der Walt

296 - Peter Uihlein

297 - Darren Fichardt

300 - José Maria Olazabal

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