King Louis crowned again at Durban golf champs

FILE PICTURE: Louis Oosthuizen during day 3 of the Nedbank Challenge at Sun City on December 07, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

By the time the last group teed off for the final round of the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club yesterday it was anybody’s for the taking.

It stayed that way right until the final hole as overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood stood on the 18th tee. The equation was a simple one, the Englishman had to ace the driveable par four in order to snatch victory in the most dramatic of fashions.

But by the time he walked down the fairway towards the gallery, the winner had been decided as Louis Oosthuizen successfully defended his title with a one-shot victory over compatriot Branden Grace at the end of a dramatic final day.

It really could have gone either way.

Grace mounted a serious challenge playing in the group ahead of Oosthuizen with three birdies on the front nine as his putter warmed up. A dropped shot at the par-three 15th before birdies on 16 and 18 saw him to a final round of 68 and the clubhouse lead at 11-under.

The defending champion meanwhile had an eagle on the par-five eighth in a front nine filled with pars. Having made the turn in 34 strokes, Oosthuizen bogeyed the 10th before birdies on 13 and 14.

There was a sharp intake of breath as he surrendered a shot on the 16th and handed the lead to Grace but his approach on 17 left him with an easy birdie putt to take him back level at 11 under and a closing birdie handed him the championship at 12 under par as he signed for a 68.

“I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done,” Oosthuizen said in the aftermath of a chaotic day.

“It was nerve-wracking there through the round but I knew once I turned on 14 I needed to make birdies. I saw Branden up there and knew he wasn’t going away,” the champion added before reflecting on the closing holes.

“I knew 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.

“It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. Hopefully I can build from here,” Oosthuizen mused of the positive start to 2014 following a year of back problems that hindered his game.

Fleetwood and Joost Luiten both finished on 10 under par while Padraig Harrington, who shot a final round 67, and the French duo of Raphael Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson finished on nine-under-par for the tournament.

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