Louis Oosthuizen made the perfect start to 2014 with a one-stroke victory over fellow South African Branden Grace in the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club in South Africa.
Oosthuizen held a one-shot advantage over Grace going into the final round but, when he bogeyed the 16th hole, the 2010 Open Champion fell one stroke behind his countryman, who birdied two of his last three holes to post a 68 and a clubhouse total of 11-under-par.
But Oosthuizen clearly wasn’t rattled by his slip. He fired a fabulous approach in to two feet on the 17th, then played a delicate chip to the same distance on the short par-4 home hole to seal a one stroke win over Grace.
“After my tee shot on 16 I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par,” Oosthuizen said. “But when I stood over the ball on 17 I saw that Branden had made birdie on 18 so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close…
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 past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close…
It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great…
I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”
England’s Tommy Fleetwood held the lead going into the last round, but he slipped away with three bogeys in five holes from the fifth. He eventually finished with a level-par closing round of 72 to end the week in a tie for third with Joost Luiten of Holland.
“Today was the best I have hit it off the tee all week,” he said. “Just a shame the rest of the game let me down. But you have to take the positives – I’ve finished third in the first event of the year so it’s been a good week.”
Padraig Harrington showed good form, closing with an excellent 67 to climb the leaderboard and finish in a tie for fifth with Frenchmen Victor Dubuisson and Raphael Jacquelin.
The European Tour travels to the Middle East next week for the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Volvo Golf Champions
Durban Country Club, Durban, South Africa
Jan 9-12, purse €2,926,000, par 72
1 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 68 69 71 68 276 €507,655
2 Branden Grace (RSA) 74 67 68 68 277 €326,349
T3 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 67 69 72 278 €174,053
T3 Joost Luiten (Ned) 70 67 70 71 278 €174,053
T5 Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 69 69 69 72 279 €116,761
T5 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 71 71 70 67 279 €116,761
T5 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 67 73 70 69 279 €116,761
T8 Thomas Aiken (RSA) 72 72 70 67 281 €81,043
T8 Julien Quesne (Fra) 74 73 66 68 281 €81,043
T10 Thomas Bjorn (Den) 79 68 67 69 283 €64,545
T10 Matteo Manassero (Ita) 72 67 73 71 283 €64,545
T10 Brett Rumford (Aus) 73 70 68 72 283 €64,545
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
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