King Louis reigns in Durban
Louis Oosthuizen overcame a five-shot deficit with a final round of 66 to beat Britain’s Scott Jamieson by one stroke to the Volvo Golf Champions title at Durban Country Club on Sunday.
Jamieson had started the day on 15-under, and enjoyed a five-stroke lead over Oosthuizen, Thongchai Jaidee and Julien Quesne, but could only manage a final-round 72 and had to settle for sole second.
Oosthuizen, who yesterday surrendered the lead as he struggled to a 74, birdied two of the first three holes to put the pressure on Jamieson. Further birdies at the sixth and eighth holes rounded off an outward nine of 32, and he had reduced the deficit to one by the turn.
Birdies at the 10th and 11th holes propelled him into the lead, and, despite bogeying the par-four 16th after finding the greenside bunker, Oosthuizen’s two-putt pars at the 17th and 18th holes were enough to clinch victory.
“I played the complete opposite of what I did yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday I felt really uncomfortable - my swing felt long and unstable. This morning I worked on a few things on the range, and put my head down. I knew if I could just put a score up there, or just get close to Scott, that I had a good chance.
“At first I just tried to make as many birdies as I could. I made bogey on 16, but then I saw Scott did too, and I made two good pars on 17 and 18 which was enough,” the 30 year-old added.
Oosthuizen’s win is the sixth consecutive South African success in a European Tour event at Durban Country Club, and it also marks the third successive year in which his European Tour season has started with a win in his native country.
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“The break does help you. It’s good to start in your home country. You feel a bit more relaxed in front of your home crowd and that environment. I love coming to South Africa to start my year off, and the last few years have been really good with the Africa Open, and I’m just glad I could start again in the same way,” Oosthuizen said.
Having begun the week sixth in the world rankings, the former Open champion now finds himself in fourth after his sixth European Tour triumph, although still some distance behind world No 1 Rory McIlroy.
“It’s a great start. I’ve got the week off next week, and then off to Qatar. I think I’m up to No 4 in the world rankings now. So just a few more to go,” he smiled.
“But top spot is a tough one. I think Rory is far ahead, so if I can somehow get myself to No 2 then I can work on trying to get to No 1.”
Glaswegian Jamieson, who won his maiden European Tour title at the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban five weeks ago, cancelled out birdies at the third and fourth holes with a double-bogey at the fifth after finding his drive in thick bush – forcing him to head back to the tee.
An inability to hole putts after that saw him relinquish his lead, and, after burying in a greenside bunker and making bogey at the 16th, he needed a two at the short par-four 18th hole to force a playoff.
His eagle chip after a loose drive almost found the cup, but agonisingly finished just an inch from the hole to end his hopes of a second European Tour success in Durban.
“I almost had a grand-stand finish at the end there,” Jamieson quipped. “I just couldn’t make any birdies after doubling the fifth. That was just a bit of a kick in the teeth. I had a ton of chances and just couldn’t take them.”
Victory at Royal Durban in December had come under different circumstances, as the 29 year-old fired an eight-under-par final round there to overturn a six-stroke deficit and earn a place in a three-man playoff.
Jamieson admitted that he found it more difficult this time around with a significant advantage going into the final round.
“It’s a completely different mindset, but you try make it as similar as possible. But it’s a lot easier to get yourself up for it when you’re trying to chase somebody, whereas if you have a healthy advantage it’s difficult to raise yourself to think that you need to make birdie – because you don’t necessarily have to,” he noted.
The Race to Dubai leader added: “Louis is a great player, and a major champion, so there’s no shame in losing to him. I gave it my all - it just wasn’t to be today.”
Thailand’s Jaidee (68) sealed third, while two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington (68) finished fourth on 12 under. Frenchman Quesne (71), who played in the final two-ball, shared fifth with England’s Danny Willett (68) on 11 under.
272 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 68-64-74-66
273 - Scott Jamieson (SCO) 69-64-68-72
274 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 65-68-73-68
276 - Padraig Harrington (IRL) 70-71-67-68
277 - Danny Willett (ENG) 69-70-70-68, Julien Quesne (FRA) 72-67-67-71
278 - Branden Grace (RSA) 75-67-69-67, Paul Lawrie (SCO) 69-70-70-69
279 - Rafa Cabrera-Bella (ESP) 72-69-70-68, Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 69-70-72-68, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 73-67-71-68, Shane Lowry (IRL) 70-69-70-70, Matteo Manassero (ITA) 75-69-66-69, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 70-70-68-71, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 69-73-70-67
280 - Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 69-72-73-66, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 69-70-72-69
281 - Paul Casey (ENG) 74-69-69-69, Ernie Els (RSA) 68-72-71-70
282 - Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 75-70-69-68, Retief Goosen (RSA) 72-70-70-70
283 - Darren Clarke (NIR) 75-68-71-69, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 72-70-70-71
284 - Robert Rock (ENG) 70-74-70-70
285 - Michael Hoey (NIR) 72-74-66-73
286 - Marcel Siem (GER) 74-74-72-66
288 - Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 76-71-73-68
289 - Ricardo Santos (POR) 76-76-65-72
290 - Darren Fichardt (RSA) 78-70-75-67, Colin Montgomerie (SCO) 72-78-70-70
292 - Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 75-72-74-71
293 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 75-73-70-75, Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP) 74-72-72-75