Oosthuizen opens 2013 with champion victory

Louis Oosthuizen outclassed an elite 33-man field at the Volvo Golf Champions on Sunday, shooting a final-round 66 at Durban Country Club to clinch his 11th professional victory.

“I knew I had to come out firing and put the score up there. I never felt that it was my tournament, but I played really well the whole day and I’m very chuffed with the win,” he said.

King Louis claimed the lion’s share of the €2-million prize fund with his 16-under-par total and, for the third consecutive year, began the season with a win.

“It’s a great start and I can only build from here. I love starting in South Africa and the last two years have been really good, and I’m just glad I could start in the same way again,” he said.

The 30-year-old began the day five strokes adrift of 54-hole leader Scott Jamieson and set a new record for the tournament when he overcame the gap en route to victory.

“At first I just tried to make as many birdies as possible. I knew if I made it to 18-under I had a good shot. Mentally I was a lot more focused today, and I knew I needed to start well to let Scott (Jamieson) know that we were still chasing him, because a leader with five shots can easily run away with it.

“It was great to play in front of a home crowd. When you start five behind you don’t have that much pressure. Once I got to the ninth and was one behind the crowd really got into it. By the time I got to the 12th I was leading by one and it was great to see everyone get so pumped-up,” he said.

The leaf-shaped trophy was Oosthuizen’s sixth piece of European Tour silverware, and moved him to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking. He also nets a cool €350,000, leaping to second in the Race to Dubai.

Of his five prior events, Oosthuizen did not finish outside the top six, with the exception of his withdrawal from the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December. Being in contention nearly every week meant that the Mossel Bay local was ready to take his (seemingly overdue) victory.

Jamieson was disappointed that he could not retain his large lead during the final round, but remained upbeat about his second-place finish. The Scotsman nearly forced a playoff with his eagle chip on 18, which missed the cup by no more than four centimetres.

“It’s a completely different mindset and it’s a lot easier to go for it if you’re chasing somebody. If you’ve got a healthy advantage it’s difficult to raise yourself up. I had a ton of chances and didn’t manage to take them today.

“I almost managed a grand stand finish, but Louis (Oosthuizen) is a great champion and there’s no shame in losing to him. I gave it my all, it just wasn’t to be today,” he said.

Finishing a further stroke back on 14-under-par was Thongchai Jaidee. The Thai carded a solid 68 but, like Jamieson, could not match the pace of a charging Oosthuizen.

Defending champion Branden Grace ended his dream chapter with an unsuccessful title defence, yet the 24-year-old was upbeat after his final-round 67 earned him a share of seventh.

“Today was a good finish to a good week. There was a lot of pressure with my first defence, and now I can put these things behind me and move forward. I just want to keep getting better and better and then take things as they come,” he said.

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