EAST LONDON, South Africa, January 8 – A birdie off a long putt at the penultimate hole on Sunday set up South African Louis Oosthuizen for his second consecutive Africa Open title.
Closest rival Tjaart van der Walt of South Africa dropped a shot by three putting the same par-three to turn a deadlock into a two-stroke advantage for the former British Open champion in the opening 2012 European Tour event.
A stray three-wood drive on the final hole did not deter 29-year-old Oosthuizen and although his second from the rough to the par-four went through the green, he got down in two to seal a fourth European Tour success by two strokes.
Oosthuizen, nicknamed Shrek after the movie character, won the British Open and Andalucia Open two seasons ago and the Africa Open last year over the same par-73, 6,190-metre East London Golf Club course.
Van der Walt, level at 21-under-par with Oosthuizen overnight, never gave up fighting but once again had to settle for a bridesmaid role after finishing runner-up 10 times in a 16-year professional career.
Oosthuizen finished on 265 — 27 under for four journeys around the part-links, part-parkland course overlooking the Indian Ocean — with Van der Walt (267) and former Major winner Retief Goosen (268) completing an all-South African top three.
Their compatriot Jaco van Zyl (269) came fourth followed by Scot Alastair Forsyth (270), South African Richard Sterne (272) and Englishman Danny Willett (273) after a final round where a breeze provided a constant test for competitors.
Oosthuizen, a native of western Cape town Mossel Bay, was his usual humble self after the applause of the crowd died down and he soaked up a success that came despite a modest four-under 69 in the first round.
“My birdie at 17 and the bogey of Tjaart made the difference. I am very pleased to win after trading blows with my closest challenger for so much of the final round,” he said.
“Tjaart did not go away despite my efforts to move clear. He matched me shot for shot, birdie for birdie, par for par, and can be really proud of his performance.
“That breeze was a test after three rounds played in perfect conditions, but I was disappointed to let birdie chances slip at 15 and 16,” added the pre-tournament favourite.
The European Tour moves north to Johannesburg next week for the Joburg Open and the South African leg concludes with the January 19-22 Volvo Golf Champions at The Links in western Cape resort Fancourt.