Oosthuizen Open Champion by seven
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2010 British Open | Round Four | 19 Jul 2010
27 year old South African Louis Oosthuizen today outplayed the game’s greatest players to win the Open Championship by seven shots over Lee Westwood and in the process became one of the game’s greats himself.
Oosthuizen’s near faultless exhibition during a week where so many of the game’s leading players struggled to tame the elements. bears testimony to a young man who will go on to win more major championships.
The manner in which he held and extended the leads he created over the final three rounds was a surprise to most but his outwardly effortless and clinical display will ensure that he will be a consideration at least in nearly everything he plays from this point on.
“To win an Open Championship is special but to win it here at St Andrews is something that you dream about,” said Oosthuizen after his round. “I am proud of the way I held my nerves around the back nine especially when I got to the 14th tee and I knew there were holes that I could throw the lead away.”
“Everyone around me has told me that it is a matter of me believing it. My win at Malaga (earlier this year) just got my head around things. The way I was playing at Pebble (Beach) I was very disappointed there missing the cut as looking at the scores and the very windy conditions it was my type of golf.”
“This week there was something different. I made good putts and made putts when I had to. I rarely missed a putt under six feet and got a few good bounces on my side.”“I felt like I started off today a bit better than yesterday. I played really solid through the front nine. I was one over through eight holes but should have been one or two under. I had it in my mind that I needed one putt o get things going and the eagle on 9 was that. The 12th was a big change today when Paul made the double bogey it was mine to throw away really. Knowing St Andrews 14 was a dangerous drive as was 17 but I have been hitting my driver so well I was not going to take anything other than driver.”
Oosthuizen started the final round with a four shot lead over Paul Casey and those looking for early chinks in his army were soon to be disappointed. It took until a pulled tee shot at the par three 8th before he dropped a shot, allowing Casey and others to sneak one shot closer. The difference between the pair then was then three although Casey enjoyed a two break over the then third placed Martin Kaymer who appeared as if he could potentially challenge for second place.
If there was any suggestion that this was the chance Casey and others were seeking it very quickly became evident that the slip was just a minor hiccup. No sooner had he opened the door for Casey and others than Oostuizen slammed it shut in their faces with a 40 foot eagle putt at the 9th. Although Casey birdied the same hole, the gap was again four and it would only increase from that point.
Casey hopes of applying any further pressure on the leader came unstuck in the worst possible way when he pulled his tee shot into the gorse left of the 12th and eventually took triple bogey. When Oosthuizen added salt to the wound with a 14 foot birdie putt at that same hole he led by eight. Even allowing for the increasing realisation of a major championship closing in, it was almost impossible to believe that he could squander this lead. He would not let us down.
Most interest turned to the battle for second and perhaps fittingly, given his outstanding record in major championships in the past two years it would be Lee Westwood who put his hand up. The Englishman moved into a share of second with Casey when he birdied the 13th and 14th holes but the Road Hole appeared as if it might be his undoing when he pulled his tee shot and could not clear the thick rough with his second.
Westwood was still left with a lengthy third but hit a superb approach to eight feet and saved an all important bogey. It was important as it allowed him one last chance at the last to birdie and perhaps secure outright second. He found the green with his tee shot and two putted for birdie and moved into second position on his own after Casey had dropped a shot at the 15th and Kaymer had bogeyed the 16th.
As Oosthuizen stood on the 16th tee he enjoyed a massive nine shot lead and would have the chance to enjoy the closing stages. He parred the 16th although he lost a shot of his lead thanks to the Westwood birdie at the last. He then bogeyed the 17th after pulling his approach and not taking any chances with his third.
By then his lead had been reduced to seven but he was still going to enjoy the moment. When his tee shot at the last finished just short of the green, he and his caddie allowed themselves a moment to congratulate themselves. The dangers were over and it was now a matter of soaking in the 72nd hole walk of an Open champion.
Westwood held second after Casey and Stenson failed to secure the almost obligatory birdie at the last. The latter pair was joined in a share of third by a brave first round leader, Rory McIlroy, whose roller coaster continued with a final round of 68.
For Westwood it continues a great run in major championship golf in recent times. He was 3rd at the 2008 US Open, 3rd at last year’s Open and PGA Championships and runner up at this year’s Masters. His time is fast approaching.
Retief Goosen finished alone in 6th position with Robert Rock, Sean O’Hair, Nick Watney and Kaymer sharing 7th position. O’Hair and Watney were the only two Americans inside the top ten. Kaymer bogeyed his final three holes costing himself his best ever finish in a major championship. His previous best was 8th at this year’s US Open.
The position as leading Australians was shared by Robert Allenby and Adam Scott who tied for 27th, an all too familiar pattern in major championship golf in recent times. Since Mathew Goggin’s impressive 5th place in this championship twelve months ago, no Australian has finished better than 15th in the following four major championships. Maybe the PGA might reverse that trend.
John Senden was 48th, while Jason Day, Peter Senior and Marc Leishman were 60th.
On a better note for Australian golf was the performance of Melbourne based Korean 20 year old Jin Jeong. Jeong, who has played pennant golf for the Waverley Golf Club in recent years, finished runner up to Matt Jager at this year’s Australian Stroke Play Championship, then recently won the British Amateur to gain a start in this event. He was brilliant throughout the week in his first exposure at this level and finished 14th. He missed out on a guaranteed return to play at Royal St George’s in 2011 by just one shot but he could well get there by other means.