Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)
Second at last week’s Masters Tournament. Third in Houston two weeks ago. But after two near misses and over 10,000 miles travelled, Louis Oosthuizen finally clinched the victory his recent form richly deserved at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
The 29 year old South African defied the psychological fatigue of being pipped to a second Major Championship by Bubba Watson at Augusta National last Sunday and the physical tiredness of a 30-hour journey to win by three shots at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
And all of that before you factor in the jet-lag of travelling across 12 time zones, made harder by the storm disruptions on Friday and Saturday which left the 2010 Open Champion with 26 holes to play on the final day. Truly this was a remarkable performance as Oosthuizen carded a closing 68 for a 17 under par total, with all four of his rounds sub-70.
One clear of Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher overnight, Oosthuizen ground down his nearest challenger, who remained in contention right until the closing stretch but struggled to make birdies in a bogey-free round of 70.
Oosthuizen began the day by playing the last eight holes of his third round in level par, and was briefly caught when Gallacher birdied the 15th and 16th.
The 37 year old bogeyed the 17th, however, allowing Oosthuizen to preserve his one shot lead going into the final round.
He turned in a two under par 34, and Gallacher stayed in touch with birdies at the fifth and tenth - both par fives - but crucially Oosthuizen was able to raise his game on the back nine and sink a ten foot birdie putt at the 13th.
A fifth European Tour title was all but secured after a slice of good fortune on the 16th - Oosthuizen’s drive almost went in the water, but having got lucky he took full advantage with a pitch to two feet and birdied.
It was nothing more than Oosthuizen deserved, after leading going into the final round two weeks ago in Texas only to be overhauled by Hunter Mahan, before Watson’s moment of magic at the tenth denied him the Green Jacket in a play-off only seven days ago.
“I thought I was going to be a lot more tired,” said Oosthuizen, after recording the fifth victory by a South African on the 2012 Race to Dubai. “It was a long journey to get here and I have to be honest and say that I didn't expect to play this well because of the tiredness.
“The one thing I did know was that the game was there so that helped a lot. I was pretty tired at points in those first couple of rounds but overall it has been great and I am over the moon with the result.
"On Thursday I knew the game was there - it was just a question of whether or not I would be able to go all the way physically.
"Having a good week this week was important and playing well. I didn't want to come here and play bad but to win means a lot because I have been playing well for the last few weeks now and to win gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”
While Gallacher’s wait for a second European Tour title goes on, the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship winner was still delighted with his week’s work.
“I'm pleased with myself, only a couple of bogeys throughout the whole week and even threw in a shot which wasn't there,” said Gallacher, who marked a four rather than birdie three on his card during the third round.
“Signed for a wrong score this morning. Apart from that, I kept my head. I'm quite proud of myself for that.
“I thought I signed it properly. Signed for a 69 when I shot a 68 - I only found out when I was at the first tee. I thought I was tied for the lead, and then was one behind but luckily it didn't affect me that much. It's one of those things that you learn. It didn't cost me much.
“I played lovely, really good. It was just a battle - it was really hot and I'm absolutely shattered.
“That's what you want to be in the last round - last group, second last group - that's what you want to do. The more you do it, the more chances you can knock a couple off.
“It was a phenomenal performance [by Oosthuizen] after last week. I thought he may get tired today and obviously he didn't. Fair play to him, he played great.”
Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello continued his good form with a closing 71 for a 12 under total to share third with England’s Danny Willett (71) and American David Lipsky (70), with Oosthuizen’s friend and compatriot Charl Schwartzel sixth on 11 under. World Number Seven Martin Kaymer and defending champion Matteo Manassero also recorded top-ten finishes after rounds of 71 and 69 respectively.