Oosthuizen snatches Africa Open title

1/9/2011 2:16:53 PM
Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen birdied the first play-off hole to win the Africa Open and deny Chris Wood and Manuel Quiros a maiden European Tour title.

All three had finished tied on 16 under par at East London Golf Club after an enthralling last round which saw no fewer than seven different leaders on the final day.

Playing the 18th as the first extra hole it was Oosthuizen who looked to be in trouble off the tee as he hooked left, but, after finding a fortunate lie, he showed the class that made him Open Champion to fire his approach to eight feet.

And when Quiros narrowly failed to chip in from the fringe and Wood fractionally missed his 25 foot birdie effort, Oosthuizen calmly holed out for a third European Tour title.

Oosthuizen had led overnight along with Austrian Markus Brier, and it was his playing partner who stormed out of the blocks with three consecutive birdies.

But a lost ball on the sixth saw Brier bogey and he never really recovered.

As Oosthuizen continued plugging away, Wood set the clubhouse benchmark with a round of 68.

With clear skies and little wind low scoring always looked likely, but nobody managed to match Wood’s effort until Quiros birdied the last three for a round of 69.

Oosthuizen drew level with an eagle on the 15th, and had to match only one of Quiros’ three late birdies for victory.

But he parred the 16th, 17th and 18th to set up a dramatic 73rd hole.

Scotland’s Steven O’Hara finished level with defending champion Charl Schwartzel and another South African, Jaco Van Zyl, on 14 under.

"The whole day was a bit of a struggle," Oosthuizen said. "I didn't get anything in the hole and made that putt on 15 which helped.

"Then I made this one (in the play-off ) which was nice. I hit a terrible tee shot and then hit a full go sand-wedge to get close. Then I made the putt, it was great."

Reflecting on his start to the year, Oosthuizen conceded he would need to improve on his putting going forward.

He said: "It's been one of those weeks where the putter was very cold, but my caddie kept me calm and said it would go in eventually.

"So I kept on trying and made that nice one on the last which I will remember."

As for his debut in the tournament where he picked up the €158,500 top prize, he added: "It's always nice playing in South Africa and you want to perform.

"This week there was a great field here and playing with Retief (Goosen) and (Darren) Clarke was really special. If you look at the leaderboard there were just big names up there so I think it was a great tournament."