Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen began The 2012 Race to Dubai in style as he successfully defended his Africa Open title at East London Golf Club.
The South African won on home soil for the second year running with a closing 67 to hold off the challenge of compatriots Tjaart Van der Walt and Retief Goosen.
The former Open Champion held firm on the back nine as his playing partners struggled for birdies, Oosthuizen running out a two shot winner on 27 under par.
Van der Walt finished second after a closing 69, with Goosen carding the same score for third – the two-time US Open Champion’s challenge coming undone when he took three from the edge of the green at the par three tenth.
“It was a real dogfight for most of the day,” said Oosthuizen. “I remember watching Tjaart when I was an amateur, and it was just great seeing him play to his potential today.
“He played really well. He’s one of those who won’t go away. He’s not going to mess it up – he’s too consistent for that.
Oosthuizen was by far the most aggressive player in the final group, and asked about his decision to try and drive the greens on the shorter par fours said: “On six, I go for that green every time, so to me it was a good driver today with the wind into me.”
Oosthuizen and Van der Walt were tied for the lead overnight, and it was the latter who started best despite the pressure of playing in the final grouping alongside two Major Champions.
The 37 year old – who remains without a title in his 15-year career - birdied the first from ten feet, sunk a 15 footer at the next, and was left with a tap-in for a hattrick of gains at the par five third.
Oosthuizen birdied the first, bogeyed the second, then rolled in a 15 foot eagle putt at the next.
Goosen, himself without a European tour title for five years, holed a 20 foot eagle putt of his own at the third, and with a birdie on the opening hole had joined Oosthuizen on 23 under par.
Oosthuizen missed a three foot putt at the fifth and bogeyed, but it proved to be his last error and the 29 year old responded with three birdies in four holes to turn in 33.
First he drove the green at the par four sixth, then pitched to five feet at the seventh and holed a 20 footer at the ninth.
That left him level with Van der Walt, who struck his approach at the eighth to three feet.
Oosthuizen and Van der Walt both looked to be in trouble at the tenth when they missed the green, but while they got up-and-down from unlikely locations, Goosen took three from the fringe and never got back into the contest from three behind.
A huge drive at the 11th set up Oosthuizen for a two-putt birdie on the 11th, and a 30 foot birdie at the penultimate hole all but sealed a victory that was confirmed when he got up-and-down from the back of the 18th green for par.