OOSTHuIzEN WINS BRI­TISH OPEN WITH EASE

South African led the fi­nal 48 holes, made just 2 bo­geys over last 35 holes

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Doug Fer­gu­son

‘He didn’t miss a shot to­day. ... That was four days of tremen­dous golf. He didn’t flinch to­day.’

PAUL CASEY, on Louis Oosthuizen

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — Hardly any­one knew Louis Oosthuizen, much less how to pro­nounce his name. Not many will for­get the per­for­mance he de­liv­ered at the home of golf to cap­ture the Bri­tish Open.

A week af­ter the World Cup ended, South Africa had more rea­son to cel­e­brate Sun­day, this from a most un­likely source. Oosthuizen, a 27-year-old who had only made one cut in his pre­vi­ous eight ma­jors, blew away the field at St. An­drews for a vic­tory that looked as easy as when Tiger Woods first won here a decade ago.

Oosthuizen (WUHST’-hy-zen) made only two bo­geys over the fi­nal 35 holes in a strong wind that swept across the Old Course. He led over the fi­nal 48 holes and

Con­tin­ued from C1 closed with a 1-un­der 71 for a seven-shot vic­tory over Lee West­wood of Eng­land.

For all the craze about those vu­vuze­las, the sweet­est sound for Oosthuizen turned out to be the skirl of a bag­pipe.

Oosthuizen could not think of a more spe­cial venue to cap­ture his first ma­jor. He just had no idea it would be this easy.

He never let any­one get within three shots of him in the fi­nal round, and he an­swered that brief chal­lenge from Paul Casey by knock­ing in a 50-foot ea­gle putt on the par-4 ninth green to re­store his cush­ion. Casey’s hopes ended with a triple bo­gey into the gorse three holes later, and Oosthuizen spent the fi­nal hour soak­ing up an at­mos­phere un­like any other in golf.

“That ea­gle on nine, that got me started,” Oosthuizen said. “It was a big change on 12 when Paul made triple and I made birdie. All of a sud­den, it was mine to throw away.”

He fin­ished at 16-un­der 272 and be­came the first player since Tony Lema in 1964 to win his first ma­jor at St. An­drews. With the fifth vic­tory of his ca­reer, Oosthuizen moved to No. 15 in the world. And as a sign just how global golf has be­come, it’s the sec­ond time this decade that the four ma­jor cham­pi­onship tro­phies re­side on four con­ti­nents.

“No­body was go­ing to stop him,” said Casey, whose 75 left him tied for third with Rory McIlroy (68) and Hen­rik Sten­son (71). “He didn’t miss a shot to­day. I don’t know if he missed one all week. That was four days of tremen­dous golf. He didn’t flinch to­day.”

No, there was only that gap­tooth smile that earned him the nick­name “Shrek” from his friends. And there was amaze­ment across his face when he cra­dled the old­est tro­phy in golf, a sil­ver claret jug with his name etched along­side Woods, Jack Nick­laus, Ben Ho­gan, and the other South African win­ners — Player, Bobby Locke and Ernie Els, his men­tor.

With­out the Ernie Els & Fan- Louis Oosthuizen, left, and Paul Casey look at their putts on the first green. Casey faded af­ter start­ing Sun­day just four shots back. court Foun­da­tion in South Africa, the son of a farmer could not have af­forded the travel re­quired to reach the game’s high­est level.

Some 45 miles away, Player was re­turn­ing from a golf out­ing and lis­ten­ing to ev­ery shot on the ra­dio, proud as can be. He saw the po­ten­tial dur­ing a prac­tice round they played at the Masters this year.

Player called Oosthuizen on Sun­day morn­ing and gave him a pep talk.

“I told him he’s got to re­al­ize that lots of peo­ple are hit­ting bad shots,” Player said, not know­ing how few of those the kid would hit. “And I told them the crowd was nat­u­rally go­ing to show a bias. But I re­minded him when I played Arnold Palmer in 1961 at the Masters, only my wife and my dog was pulling for me. I told him he’s got to get in there and be more de­ter­mined to win.”

Oosthuizen was re­laxed as could be, putting his arm around cad­die Zack Rasego af­ter hit­ting off the 18th tee and walk­ing over the Swilcan Bridge, thou­sands of fans packed into the grand­stands, along the road and peer­ing out the shop win­dows.

The tim­ing could not have been bet­ter for a South African to claim a ma­jor — that’s five ma­jors for the Spring­boks since 2001. Not only is the coun­try still buzzing, Sun­day was the 92nd birth­day of Nel­son Man­dela.

“It’s a proud moment for us, es­pe­cially with the Old Man, win­ning on his birth­day,” Rosega said.

The 150th an­niver­sary of golf’s old­est cham­pi­onship was mem­o­rable in so many ways.

It be­gan with Rory McIlroy ty­ing the ma­jor cham­pi­onship record with a 63 in some of the calmest con­di­tions at the Old Course. It ended with some­one other than Woods hoist­ing the claret jug in front of the Royal and An­cient club­house.

Woods tapped in on the fi­nal hole and re­moved his cap to salute the gallery, just as he did the last two Opens at St. An­drews. Only this time, the tour­na­ment was still two hours from fin­ish­ing. Woods made two dou­ble bo­geys on his way to a 72 and tied for 23rd.

It was his sev­enth tour­na­ment of the year with­out a vic­tory, match­ing the long­est drought of his ca­reer.

“I’m not go­ing to win all of them,” Woods said af­ter his worst 72-hole fin­ish in a ma­jor in six years. “I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve won.”

No way he was go­ing to win this one. Nei­ther was any­one else.

Oosthuizen might have been ner­vous, but it didn’t show. Charl Schwartzel, his best friend from their ju­nior golf days in South Africa, ran into him on Satur­day and said Oosthuizen was show­ing him com­edy videos on his phone.

“This was about an hour be­fore he teed off,” Schwartzel said.

If any­one showed nerves, it was Casey. With the warm ap­plause from a Bri­tish gallery that had not seen one of its own hold­ing a claret jug in 11 years, he hit wedge to 4 feet be­low the hole at No. 1 to send a mes­sage. The birdie putt caught the right lip, how­ever, and it took un­til the sixth hole be­fore Casey could make a birdie.

He wasn’t alone. Of the fi­nal 10 play­ers to tee off, only Retief Goosen made a birdie on any of the open­ing five holes.

Oosthuizen plod­ded along with pars.

Oosthuizen went 24 con­sec­u­tive holes with­out a bo­gey un­til his streak ended on the par-3 eighth hole by missing a 6-foot par putt. That trimmed his lead to three, and Casey hit driver onto the par-4 ninth green.

What­ever mo­men­tum he had didn’t last long. Oosthuizen also drove the ninth green and holed his 50-foot ea­gle putt to re­store the lead to four shots, same as when he started. And this Open ef­fec­tively ended three holes later.

Casey drove into the gorse bushes left of the 12th, took a drop back to­ward the sev­enth fair­way, came up short of the green and wound up mak­ing a triple bo­gey, drop­ping him eight shots be­hind.

Oosthuizen spent the fi­nal hour with a big grin on his face.

Jon Su­per AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Louis Oosthuizen hugs the Claret Jug af­ter crush­ing near­est com­peti­tor Lee West­wood by a stun­ning sev­en­stroke mar­gin to cap­ture the Bri­tish Open. Oosthuizen had made just one cut in his pre­vi­ous eight ma­jors.

Jon Su­per

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