One shot ul­ti­mately de­cided Open ti­tle

Gorse gets Casey’s goose for a 4-shot swing on No. 12

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — The tee shot sailed into the prickly gorse, and with it went any chance Paul Casey had of win­ning the Bri­tish Open.

The 32-year-old English­man was the only player who had any hope at catch­ing Louis Oosthuizen in the fi­nal round at the Old Course. With no way to hit out of the thick bushes left of the 12th fair­way, a penalty drop was his only op­tion. Un­nerved, Casey needed five more to fin­ish off a triple-bo­gey 7.

Oosthuizen made birdie at the same hole, and — just like that — a four-shot mar­gin grew to a stag­ger­ing eight. The en­graver had a lit­tle ex­tra time to put a name on the claret jug that few peo­ple knew be­fore this week.

Even if that shot hadn’t veered off course, it’s un­likely that he, or any­one else, would have caught Oosthuizen. The barely known South African put it all to­gether for one mag­i­cal week, and Casey would have needed some­thing akin to a 67 — as good as any­one shot on Sun­day — to have Paul Casey looks for his ball in the rough on the 12th hole Sun­day. He took a triple-bo­gey there and fell eight shots off the lead. any chance of wip­ing out the deficit he faced at the start of the round.

“As dis­ap­pointed as I am with the way I played to­day, Louis was in a dif­fer­ent league,” said Casey, who strug­gled home with a 3-over 75 that left him tied for third. “You know, that soft­ens my dis­ap­point­ment slightly, be­cause it was a tremen­dous per­for­mance. Hats off to him.”

Casey’s pain was eased even more by the state of his game.

He was No. 3 in the world head­ing into last year’s Open, but strained a rib mus­cle the week be­fore. Casey made it through four painful rounds but could only man­age a tie for 47th at Turn­berry. Af­ter rest and treat­ment, he tore the mus­cle at Fire­stone and had to with­draw. He with­drew again be­fore the PGA Cham­pi­onship.

Casey didn’t play an­other full round un­til the World Match Play Cham­pi­onship in Oc­to­ber, where he lost all three of his rounds.

“I’ll be hon­est, it was scary,” he said. “I was very wor­ried about it. I thought, ‘Is this some­thing I’m go­ing to be bat­tling the rest of my ca­reer? Am I done? Will I ever be pain free?’ I had no idea. I was pretty down.”

Casey has re­bounded this year, with five top-10 fin­ishes around the world, but his per­for­mance at the birthplace of golf makes it clear he’s all the way back.

Now, all he has to do is win that first ma­jor ti­tle.

“Six months ago, I had no idea if I was go­ing to get back to this sort of form again,” he said. “Now I know I’m go­ing to win a ma­jor. It’s just a mat­ter of time. This week just wasn’t my week.”

Jon Su­per

Louis Oosthuizen strikes his tee shot on the 12th hole as cad­die Zack Rasego, left, play­ing part­ner Paul Casey, right, and Casey’s cad­die Chris­tian Don­ald look on dur­ing the fi­nal round.

Peter Mor­ri­son

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