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The Open: Nerveless Oosthuizen silences any doubt with a majestic win

IT'S just as well for Garry Harvey, the R&A's trophy engraver, that the winner isn't likely to have wanted his full name on the Claret Jug. After all, Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen would have been quite a task. It wouldn't have been inappropriate in the slightest, though, if he'd added the words 'worthy champion' after Louis Oosthuizen.

From Andalucian Open champion to Open champion is quite a leap in just over three months and, no doubt, some will point to the break he got with the weather, in Friday's second round in particular, as a significant factor for a player who'd missed the cut in his three previous appearances in the event.

However, just as Graeme McDowell deserved his US Open win a few weeks ago, so, too, did Oosthuizen, the 27-year-old producing a majestic display of golf over the Old Course in closing with a 71 for a 16-under-par total of 272, two less than Tiger Woods posted when he won for the second time in a row at St Andrews five years ago.

In winning by seven shots from Lee Westwood, who has now finished in the top three in four of the last five majors, Oosthuizen became only the fourth South African to claim the Claret Jug, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els in holding membership of that exclusive club. Of the other trio, only Locke, in 1957, tasted success on the hallowed turf of the Old Course.

Holding a four-shot lead over Paul Casey at the start of the day, it might have been Oosthuizen's title to lose but he proved those who'd predicted he'd crumble when the heat was on spectacularly wrong. He was magnificent from start to finish and, as Casey shot himself in the foot with a triple-bogey 7 at the 12th and the other challengers failed to spark, Oosthuizen strolled to the most comprehensive victory in the event since Woods won by eight shots over the same course ten years ago.

If Oosthuizen and Casey were feeling the pressure of making up the final pairing of the tournament they did a good job of disguising it as they joked together on the practice putting green and still appeared at completely at ease when they joined starter Ivor Robson, as much part of the Open furniture as some of the players, on the tee.

After Casey had hit first, Oosthuizen composed himself before stepping forward and, with a South African flag fluttering above his shoulder in the stand behind the 18th green, he also opened with a solid strike.

The conditions for the final day were pretty much the same as 24 hours earlier, though not quite as strong as when Oosthuizen had started with a nervous three-putt before recovering brilliantly in covering the next 17 holes in four-under-par.

St.Andrews Links

Source: The Scotsman, Monday, 19th July, 2010