Oosthuizen eagle on 15 turns into Africa Open victory

In the end, his putter came through for him as Louis Oosthuizen won a three-way playoff on the first playoff hole to take the €1-million Africa Open at the 6,104-metre (6,674-yard) par-73 East London Golf Club.

He sank a 12-footer on the 18th to dash the hopes of Chris Wood of England and Manuel Quiros of Spain might have entertained of winning their maiden European Tour titles.

It was Oosthuizen’s first victory since he won the Open Championship at St Andrews last July, and it was one achieved by hanging tough as his direction off the tee went haywire during a final round which looked like depriving him of a victory the fans wanted almost as much as he did.

In the end, he pulled it all together with an eagle – perhaps not as dramatic as his eagle on the ninth at St Andrews, but it was a gritty one after he had bogeyed nine and battled to get a putt to go down for the next five holes.

“My caddie Zac told me to stay patient as something would eventually go in,” he said. And so, eventually, on 15, a drive arrowed down the fairway and an eight-iron to the heart of the green saw him sink a 15-footer for eagle and a share of the lead.

“I got the line right for once,” he laughed.

“I also felt quite confident after that that there were enough opportunities to make birdies coming in to try and win it, and Zac had told me he thought 16-under was the number,” he said.

Indeed, Wood was in the clubhouse on 16-under, and Quiros finished in a rush with three consecutive birdies to get himself into the playoff.

Oosthuizen couldn’t win it in regulation play, and he nearly lost it thanks to his waywardness off the tee on the playoff hole.

He got a good bounce out of the rough off the embankment to the left onto the fairway. “I knew it would kick left from there,” he said, “and I knew I would have a flat lie out there.”

He responded to the situation by ramming home his approach to within 12 feet, while Wood was 25 feet away, and Quiros through the green.

Both Oosthuizen’s challengers came close, but a miss was as good as a mile, and Oosthuizen took full advantage of his proximity to sink another crucial putt.

Charl Schwartzel put on a good show in defence of his title and posted a 70 to finish alongside Jaco van Zyl and Steven O’Hara on 15 under par.

“It’s a great way to start the season. This is my first European Tour title in South Africa and I’m quite ecstatic about that,” said Oosthuizen.

He now leaves South Africa for two tournaments in the Middle East on the European Tour before joining the US PGA Tour. “I’m looking forward to the whole year, playing half in America and Europe. I’m looking forward to contending on both money lists.”

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