ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) - Hardly anyone knew Louis
Oosthuizen, much less how to pronounce his name. Not many will
forget the performance he delivered at the home of golf to capture
the British Open.
A week after the World Cup ended, South Africa had more reason
to celebrate Sunday, this from a most unlikely source. Oosthuizen,
a 27-year-old who had only made one cut in his previous eight
majors, blew away the field at St. Andrews for a victory that
looked as easy as when Tiger Woods first won here a decade ago.
Oosthuizen (WUHST'-hy-zen) made only two bogeys over the final
35 holes in a strong wind that swept across the Old Course. He led
over the final 48 holes and closed with a 1-under 71 for a
seven-shot victory over Lee Westwood of England.
For all the craze about those vuvuzelas, the sweetest sound for
Oosthuizen turned out to be the skirl of a bagpipe.
Oosthuizen could not think of a more special venue to capture
his first major. He just had no idea it would be this easy.
He never let anyone get within three shots of him in the final
round, and he answered that brief challenge from Paul Casey by
knocking in a 50-foot eagle putt on the par-4 ninth green to
restore his cushion. Casey's hopes ended with a triple bogey into
the gorse three holes later, and Oosthuizen spent the final hour
soaking up an atmosphere unlike any other in golf.
"That eagle on nine, that got me started," Oosthuizen said.
"It was a big change on 12 when Paul made triple and I made
birdie. All of a sudden, it was mine to throw away."
He finished at 16-under 272 and became the first player since
Tony Lema in 1964 to win his first major at St. Andrews. With the
fifth victory of his career, Oosthuizen moved to No. 15 in the
world. And as a sign just how global golf has become, it's the
second time this decade that the four major championship trophies
reside on four continents.
"Nobody was going to stop him," said Casey, whose adventures
in the gorse sent him to a 75 and a tie for third with Rory McIlroy
(68) and Henrik Stenson (71). "He didn't miss a shot today. I
don't know if he missed one all week. That was four days of
tremendous golf. He didn't flinch today."
No, there was only that gap-tooth smile that earned him the
nickname "Shrek" from his friends. And there was amazement across
his face when he cradled the oldest trophy in golf, a silver claret
jug with his name etched alongside Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan,
and the other South African winners - Player, Bobby Locke and Ernie
Els, his mentor.
Without the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation in South Africa, the
son of a farmer could not have afforded the travel required to
reach the game's highest level.
Some 45 miles away, Player was returning from a golf outing and
listening to every shot on the radio, proud as can be. He saw the
potential during a practice round they played at the Masters this
Player called Oosthuizen on Sunday morning and gave him a pep
"I told him he's got to realize that lots of people are hitting
bad shots," Player said, not know how few of those the kid would
hit. "And I told them the crowd was naturally going to show a
bias. But I reminded him when I played Arnold Palmer in 1961 at the
Masters, only my wife and my dog was pulling for me. I told him
he's got to get in there and be more determined to win."
Oosthuizen was relaxed as could be, putting his arm around
caddie Zack Rasego after hitting off the 18th tee and walking over
the Swilcan Bridge, thousands of fans packed into the grandstands,
along the road and peering out the shop windows.
The timing could not have been better for a South African to
claim a major - that's five majors for the Springboks since 2001.
Not only is the country still buzzing, Sunday was the 92nd birthday
of Nelson Mandela.
"It's a proud moment for us, especially with the Old Man,
winning on his birthday," Rosega said. "Winning at St. Andrews,
it's unbelievable. He deserves what he's just done."
The 150th anniversary of golf's oldest championship was
memorable in so many ways.
It began with Rory McIlroy tying the major championship record
with a 63 in some of the calmest conditions at the Old Course. It
ended with someone other than Woods hoisting the claret jug in
front of the Royal and Ancient clubhouse.
Woods tapped in on the final hole and removed his cap to salute
the gallery, just as he did the last two Opens at St. Andrews. Only
this time, the tournament was still two hours from finishing. Woods
made two double bogeys on his way to a 72 and tied for 23rd.
It was his seventh tournament of the year without a victory,
matching the longest drought of his career.
"I'm not going to win all of them," Woods said after his worst
72-hole finish in a major in six years. "I've lost a lot more than
No way he was going to win this one. Neither was anyone else.
Oosthuizen might have been nervous, but it didn't show. Charl
Schwartzel, his best friend from their junior golf days in South
Africa, ran into him on Saturday and said Oosthuizen was showing
him comedy videos on his phone.
"This was about an hour before he teed off," Schwartzel said.
If anyone showed nerves, it was Casey. With the warm applause
from a British gallery that had not seen one of its own holding a
claret jug in 11 years, he hit wedge to 4 feet below the hole at
No. 1 to send a message. The birdie putt caught the right lip,
however, and it took until the sixth hole before Casey could make a
He wasn't alone. Of the final 10 players to tee off, only Retief
Goosen made a birdie on any of the opening five holes.
Oosthuizen plodded along with pars.
"He's doing all the things he needs to do," said Woods, who
has more experience than anyone playing from ahead in a major.
"He's being consistent, putting all the pressure on Paul to come
get him. He doesn't need to go out there and shoot a low round
Oosthuizen went 24 consecutive holes without a bogey until his
streak ended on the par-3 eighth hole by missing a 6-foot par putt.
That trimmed his lead to three, and Casey hit driver onto the par-4
Whatever momentum he had didn't last long. Oosthuizen also drove
the ninth green and holed his 50-foot eagle putt to restore the
lead to four shots, same as when he started. And this Open
effectively ended three holes later.
Casey drove into the gorse bushes left of the 12th, took a drop
back toward the seventh fairway, came up short of the green and
wound up making a triple bogey, dropping him eight shots behind.
Oosthuizen spent the final hour with a big grin on his face,
although he started out that way, too.
The biggest smile came on the 18th green, with a hug for Rasego,
and an embrace with wife Nel-Mare and 7-month-old daughter Jana. It
will be years before the child can appreciate the magnitude of this
"I will say, 'That's the day Daddy makes us the proudest,"'
his wife said. "And we'll never forget it."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)