13 January 2014
Louis Oosthuizen claimed victory in the Volvo Golf Champions at the Durban Country Club for a second year in succession on Sunday, edging out fellow South African Branden Grace by one shot for the title.
With birdies on the last two holes, Oosthuizen finished on 12-under-par 276, while Grace ended on 11-under 277. Both players fired final rounds of four-under-par 68, while third round leader Tommy Fleetwood of England managed only a level-par 72 to finish in a tie for third with the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten on 10-under-par 278.
By winning the Volvo Golf Champions again, Oosthuizen joined his good friend Charl Schwartzel as the only South African golfer to have successfully defended two European Tour titles. He previously won the Africa Open at the East London Golf Club in 2011 and 2012. Only eight players, including the two South Africans, have managed the feat on the European Tour.
“I knew that when I stood over the ball on 17, I saw Branden made birdie on 18, so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good birdie opportunity, and you know, I hit it really close,” Oosthuizen said afterwards.
“And then 18, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie, but around that green, it’s not easy, and luckily I was far enough where I could pitch it back into the grain and I could get it close.
“It’s an awesome start for the year,” Oosthuizen added. “Confidence-wise, it’s great. I didn’t play really well last year with all the injuries … so hopefully I can build from here and just go better next time.”
‘I played some superb golf’
Commenting after his round, Grace said: “I thought I played some superb golf today. I let a couple slip out there, which was unfortunate, but it was a good one.
“If you told me [that in] my first event, [I would] start off with a second place, coming this close, I would have taken it. So I’m very pleased.”
Durban Country Club was roundly praised by the elite field that consisted of players that had won European Tour events in the past year, had won 10 or more European Tour events in their careers, or had previously won the Volvo Golf Champions.
Oosthuizen said: “It’s not a long golf course and the holes sort of force you to hit every one in the same position. You can take it on if you want, but if you’re off-line, you can make a big number. But hats off to Durban Country Club, the staff, everyone, for again putting a great week up and Volvo for their involvement, the tournament sponsor. It’s been a phenomenal week.”
Race to Dubai
Oosthuizen’s big win, worth €507 655 (R7.39-million), propelled him up to second place in the Race to Dubai (European Tour’s Order of Merit) standings, behind only Nedbank Golf Challenge winner Thomas Bjorn and just ahead of Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Charl Schwartzel. After his second place in Durban, Grace is up to sixth place.
Victory also lifted Oosthuizen up seven places in the Official World Golf Rankings to 27th place. South Africans occupy four places in the top 50, with Schwartzel ranked 18th, Oosthuizen 27th, Ernie Els 28th and Grace 42nd.
- Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 276 (-12) 68, 69, 71, 68
- Branden Grace (RSA) 277 (-11) 74, 67, 68, 68
- Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 278 (-10) 70, 67, 69, 72
- Joost Luiten (Ned) 278 (-10) 70, 67, 70, 71
- Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 279 (-9) 69, 69, 69, 72
- Padraig Harrington (Irl) 279 (-9) 71, 71, 70, 67
- Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 279 (-9) 67, 73, 70, 69
- Thomas Aiken (RSA) 281 (-7) 72, 72, 70, 67
- Julien Quesne (Fra) 281 (-7) 74, 73, 66, 68