Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

Louis Oosthuizen closed at the Randpark Golf Club with a four-under-par 67, shrugging off a poor start to hole an eagle on 14 and finish well clear of runner-up Romain Langasque from France. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 09 December 2018
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Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

JOHANNESBURG: Louis Oosthuizen had endured a 33-month winless run since winning the Perth International back in February 2016, but he ended it by lifting the South African Open trophy for the first time Sunday after a six-shot victory in Johannesburg.
The 36-year-old South African closed at the Randpark Golf Club with a four-under-par 67, shrugging off a poor start to hole an eagle on 14 and finish well clear of runner-up Romain Langasque from France.
Schedule clashes meant Oosthuizen was playing in the South African Open for the first time since 2010 and he wept after clinching an ultimately comfortable victory.
“This is a very special victory for me as I become only the sixth golfer to win the two oldest national golf championships, the Open and the South African Open.
“I wish the family was here,” a tearful Oosthuizen said on the 18th green. “The crowd was great this whole week, it was nice to do it for them.”
Fellow South Africans Ernie Els, Bobby Locke and Gary Player, Swede Henrik Stenson and New Zealander Bob Charles previously achieved the ‘double’.
“I did not start well today, scrambling a par at one and dropping shots at two and three before recovering with four birdies to turn two under for the round.
“For the second successive round I struggled off the tee early on and had to bite the bullet before coming good as the round progressed.
“While realizing that I was building a good lead, it was not until 14 that I could relax a little bit.
“My nine-iron second at that par-five hole was a perfect shot, leaving me with a short putt for an eagle.”
Oosthuizen opened with a 62 for the first-round lead, but trailed fellow South African Charl Schwartzel by two shots at the halfway mark having carded a 70.
A third-round 67 gave him a three-stroke advantage and the expected final-round challenges from Schwartzel and in-form Matt Wallace of England never materialized.
Instead, Langasque, who trailed Oosthuizen by seven shots after three rounds, fired a five-under 66 that included an eagle and five birdies to surge into second spot.
Major winner Schwartzel closed with a 72 to share third place with compatriots Thomas Aiken and Bruce Easton and Oliver Wilson from England.
Langasque’s closing 66 earned him one of three spots available for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in 2019, with 2011 Masters Tournament winner Schwartzel and Wilson claiming the other two spots up for grabs.


‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

Updated 17 July 2019
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‘If home crowds can’t help you, nothing can’, says golf star Rory McIlroy

  • The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday
  • British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951

PORTRUSH, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that he is not feeling extra pressure this week as the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and is hoping home fans can help him end a five-year major drought.
The world number three is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the Claret Jug for the second time on Sunday, despite not having claimed a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship.
He said in the past he struggled being the focus of attention at Irish Opens, although he did win that tournament in 2016.
“I think it’s probably easier this week because it’s such a big tournament,” said McIlroy, who opens his title tilt at Royal Portrush at 0909 GMT on Thursday alongside US Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the center of attention.
“I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here. But at the same time, I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again.
“I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
McIlroy fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce Links at the age of just 16 in 2005, and is one of three Northern Irish major champions in the field along with Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.
He said his first memories of Portrush came as a child when watching his father play.
“I remember chipping around the chipping green, being seven or eight years of age, my dad out playing on the Dunluce,” added McIlroy, who played a practice round on Tuesday.
“Portrush ... At least the golf club, has been a big part of my upbringing. It’s sort of surreal that it’s here.
“Even driving in yesterday, when you’re coming in on the road and you look to the right and you’ve got the second tee... I don’t know who was teeing off, maybe (American player) Tony Finau and someone else, (it was) sort of strange to see them here.
“But it’s really cool.”
Since McIlroy’s record the course has been renovated, with the seventh and eighth new holes.
But the 30-year-old said he did not have to spend too much time preparing on the course, such is his familiarity with it.
“I had dinner booked with a parent on Saturday night at 8:00, thinking I’m going to have to spend some time around the greens and just prepare.
“And I got on the road back home and rang them and said, ‘Can we move dinner up?’ Because I finished early. There’s no difference. It’s the same golf course.”
McIlroy has been in strong form this year, winning twice, including the Players’ Championship, and posting 11 top-10 finishes.
He also finished in a tie for second at the Open at Carnoustie last year.
“I think it’s probably the most consistent period of golf I’ve ever played,” the 2014 champion said.