Oosthuizen in superb comeback

2013-01-14 00:00

LOUIS Oosthuizen produced a superb final round six-under-par 66 to clinch a one shot victory on 16 under par at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban yesterday.

He overcame an indifferent third-round 74 on Saturday to launch a magnificent comeback, pipping Scotland’s Scott Jamieson by a single stroke, with the steady Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand) third on 14 under.

The win was Oosthuizen’s first European Tour victory since last year’s Maybank Malaysian Open and elevated him to number four in the official world golf ranking, climbing two positions from sixth. This is his fourth consecutive European Tour season with a victory since the 2010 season and is his first Volvo Golf Champions win, his previous best being tied for seventh last year.

The win guarantees him automatic qualification for next year’s tournament and he keeps the South African flag flying in the tournament after Branden Grace’s win last year.

Once again, Durban Country Club proved a happy hunting ground for a South African as every European Tour event played at the venue has seen a home-grown winner.

Starting the day on 10 under, five shots adrift of Jamieson, Oosthuizen put the previous day’s round behind him as the sun broke through for the first time in the tournament.

Playing with Jaidee, Oosthuizen said it was important to have a good first nine holes to ensure he was in contention to challenge for victory.

Said Oosthuizen: “It was important to get a good start and tame the first nine holes. A few early birdies helped my confidence and reaching the 10th tee after 32 shots, my plan was falling into place.”

Indeed it was. By the 11th, Oosthuizen had grabbed the lead as Jamieson started to stutter. Spectators sensed early that Oosthuizen could pull off the win, but Jamieson fought gamely to the end.

“Scott is a good player and I knew he would fight. I had a stutter on 16, where I again misread my putt, dropping a shot, and had to do a lot of work to get par on 18. There was no time when I felt the tournament was mine but the birdie on 11, where I took the lead by one, was a high point, as were the pars on 13 and 14.

“It’s the perfect way to start the year and the third time I have started my year with a win on home soil.”

But it took some work on the practice range to prepare Oosthuizen for his final round assault.

Said the champion: “On Saturday, the third round, my swing was horrible. It was long and I had no control. My score shows something wasn’t right and before yesterday’s final round, I was on the range, shortening the swing, tightening my arms and hitting through the ball the way I wanted to. In the long run, it was right where I wanted to be and the result proves it worked.”

Oosthuizen pocked €350 000 (R4 million) for his work and with a car thrown in for winning Friday’s Pro-am, plus an excavator, it was a question of what he valued the most.

“It’s a difficult one to answer, but the win is obviously what counts. However, the excavator cannot be discarded. I have a week off now and cannot wait to get back to the farm [in Albertinia] and have some great fun with my new machine,” he said.

Asked whether he would be looking at challenging Ireland’s Rory McIlroy for the number one spot in the rankings, Oosthuizen said: “Rory is so far ahead on the rankings, but I think I could eye the number two spot. It really comes down to the Majors and how I perform there. My approach is to get my game ready, rather than arrive with big expectations.”

Fellow South Africans Grace, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Brandon Fichardt and Jbe Kruger finished seventh (-10), 18th (-7), 20th (-6), 29th (+2) and 32nd (+5) respectively.

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