On Sunday Louis Oosthuizen showed pure class when he birdied the 17th and 18th at Durban Country Club to edge out countryman Branden Grace by one shot and successfully defend his Volvo Golf Champions title.
“I knew Branden was going to make a charge and I saw him up there early,” said Oosthuizen. “He was the one that spurred me on. I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done.”
King Louis’ seventh European Tour title marked the fourth consecutive time that he’s won his first event of a new year. Rest and relaxation clearly factor into the 2010 Open Champion’s form and he shot 68 on Sunday for a 12-under-par winning total.
“I take it from the holidays. I didn’t play any golf before this, and maybe that’s the key. I think the home crowd is really spurring us along and we just love playing in South Africa,” he said.
Overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood’s level-par 72 was not enough to keep the South Africans at bay and he finished in a share of third on 10-under-par. Joost Luiten of the Netherlands gave himself plenty of chances, but had a handful of narrow misses on the greens and had to settle for a Sunday 71 and a share of third with Fleetwood.
Grace made a strong move and birdied three in a row from the sixth to the eighth before turning tied for the lead on 10-under. He left his birdie putt short on the 17th and, despite scoring at the last to set the clubhouse lead on 11-under, was unable to prevent Oosthuizen from winning.
“I thought I played some superb golf today,” said Grace. “I let a couple slip out there which was unfortunate but it was a good one. If you told me my first event, start off with a second place, coming this close, I would have taken it.”
The decisive shot of the tournament came at the 17th, where King Louis took a 54 degree wedge from 119 metres and pitched the ball one metre past the flag before backspin brought it to tap-in distance.
“I saw Branden had birdied 18, so he was finished on 11-under,” said Oosthuizen. “I was on 17 and I knew I had to give myself a good opportunity. I hit a good shot from the fairway and didn’t expect it to end that close, so making birdie there was a huge boost.”
The tournament offers a total prize fund of $4-million and the elite field boosts the world ranking points on offer, which further sweetens the win.
“It’s an awesome start for the year,” Oosthuizen said with a big smile. “Confidence-wise it’s great, so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”