SOUTH AFRICAN golfer Louis Oosthuizen has raised his interntational profile somewhat with an emphatic win in the 2010 British Open.
The little-known former farm boy has joined some of the legends of golf with a seven shot win in a gripping 150th anniversary Open at St Andrews.
Oosthuizen entered the tournament ranked 54th in the world and ended it just three shy of Tiger Woods record score at the home of golf in 2000.
Mentor Ernie Els praised both his talent and demeanour.
“It would be difficult to find anybody in the world who is more proud of him right now,” Els said of the 27 year old. “He comes from a little town on the outskirts of George in South Africa and needed help, so we took him into the foundation and educated him. I thought long before anybody had heard of him that he was going to be an exceptional player. His life will change. He won’t.”
Oosthuizen is only the fourth South African to win the Open, following Bobby Locke (149, 1940, 1952 and 1957), Gary Player (1959, 1968 and 1974) and 2002 champion Eels.
Seeming to become calmer the further the tournament progressed and the further his lead lengthened, the often smiling Oosthuizen carded a final-round one-under-par 71 to finish with a 72-hole total of 16-under 272.
“It’s unbelievable,” Oosthuizen said after coolly paring the final hole before a huge crowd, including his wife and infant daughter. ”It’s probably going to hit me tomorrow, what I did, but I felt like I played well the whole week.
Later, reflecting on comments he had been a talented underachiever held back by a hot temper, the South African said: “”It was just a matter of growing up, really. I think any youngster that’s playing that makes stupid mistakes on the golf course, it frustrates you. If you look at the older guys on Tour who have all that experience, when they make bogey or double bogey they just go on the next hole. I thought to myself, the quicker I can get around that, the quicker I’m going to win tournaments here.”
Perennial bridesmaid Lee Westwood finished second (70) at nine-under 279 while a final round charge by English compatriot Paul Casey ended with a triple bogey on the 12th.
Allenby and Scott best placed Australians
Robert Allenby (71) and Adam Scott (72) were the best placed Australians finishing at two under and ruing lost opportunities.
“I gave it my best shot,” Allenby said. “I just needed to make more putts and hit it a little closer as well. There were certain holes where I hit it great and there were certain holes where I didn’t hit it fantastically.”
Scott, who saw glimmers of hope in his improved final round putting said: “It was a good week. If you can’t enjoy this week, I don’t know what you can enjoy.”
John Senden (73) finished one over whilst Jason Day (71), Peter Senior (73) and Marc Leishman (75) all posted three-over totals.
Day was overall happy with his major debut and hoping to contend in the future, whilst veteran Senior will take a lot of positives into the upcoming Senior British Open which begins early Friday morning (AEST) at Carnoustie.