Schwartzel, Oosthuizen fly SA flag

2011-06-20 07:44

Reigning South African major champions Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen both finished in a credible tie for ninth on a four under par total of 280 in the US Open played at Congressional Country Club yesterday.

Despite their good showing, they were never close to Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy who ran away to an eight shot victory finishing 16 under par.

With McIlroy’s record-breaking play, the win was hardly in doubt after three rounds and it became a race to see who would finish closest to the 22-year-old.

Masters’ champion Schwartzel improved 19 places with a final round five under par 66, taking him from one over at the start of the day, to finish four under for the tournament.

His closing round was the same score as his last round which won him the green jacket, but it came in very different circumstances as McIlroy grabbed all the headlines on this occasion.

The man from Maccauvlei Golf Club put together a steady bogey-free fourth round with two birdies coming on the front nine and picking up three more birdies on the back nine.

Oosthuizen fired a final round 67 with most of his action coming on the front with two pairs of birdies on the fourth and fifth and eighth and ninth respectively to close out the nine in four under.

The defending British Open champion could not reproduce the same standard on the back nine as he came home in level par to cap off a solid performance.

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen was the next best South African on one over par for the tournament after a final round 68 vaulted him 17 places up to a share of 23rd.

Further down in tie for 30th was Rory Sabbatini on two over par.

The surprise of the week, from a South African perspective, was Christo Greyling. The previously unknown 28-year-old, whose parents moved to the US to help nurture his golfing career, made the cut in his first major appearance.

Despite falling to share 68th place, it was a big step up for the man who had to make it through a qualifying event to get into the field.

Earlier in the week, double US Open winner Ernie Els, who won the last US Open played at Congressional in 1997, missed the cut by two shots at six over with rounds of 73 and 75.

The Big Easy was expected to be in contention on the layout but it was a shaky putter that once again was his weakness.

At the start of the week, Els briefly had his name near the top of the leaderboard before he began dropping shots.

His putting woes came to the fore on the first hole of his second round on the par three tenth where he four putted for double bogey.

Els now 41 years old, never really recovered and will have to find some way to get the flat-stick working if he wants to add to his three majors.

Also missing the cut was 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman who was three shots away from making the weekend.

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