Louis Oosthuizen felt he was outplayed by Lee Westwood as the Englishman claimed his third win at Sun City, writes WADE PRETORIUS from the Gary Player Country Club.
It seemed for all money that South Africa would enjoy back-to-back triumphs at Africa’s Major after birdies at the 9th, 10th and 11th sent the 2010 Open winner two shots clear late on Sunday.
Much was said of the course’s ability to bring players back to the field and that proved to be the case as Oosthuizen dropped shots at the 12th and 15th. Those drops and Westwood’s stellar finish proved to be the difference as the local crowd was left hot and bothered without the victory they were gleefully predicting just 90 minutes prior.
The Englishman birdied the 16th and 17th to heap the pressure on his opponent, who failed to make a putt on either of those greens to all but end the contest.
Disaster off the tee on the 72nd hole sealed Oosthuizen’s fate but he was quick to put both his round and that of Westwood into context.
‘I played well … I attacked nicely and I made a lot of birdies. I can honestly say that I made a good run at it,’ said a visibly deflated Oosthuizen after the round.
‘Westy was just too good. How many birdies did he make coming in? Like four out of six. That’s just so good.’
If the three-putt from the fringe on the 15th was a hiccup, then the missed opportunity on the 17th was a blow to the solar plexus.
‘The putt on 17 knocked the wind out of my sails … it was a good putt and it just wouldn’t go in. I knew I had to make that to then try and birdie the last to give myself a shot at playing off.
‘Then you know the last hole … it was kind of all or nothing. It’s been a tough hole from the tee all week, for a lot of guys. I tried to get it down there in 7-iron range but hit it way right.’
That poor tee shot ended all hopes as the ball found the cart path before nestling under the grandstand. The free drop offered him the tiniest of windows but disaster ensued as the ball clipped the top brick and cannoned backwards.
‘I could’ve killed someone with what happened there.
‘It never crossed my mind not to try and go for the hallelujah shot you know. The 18th in terms of what happened isn’t really the problem. I had to try and play the miracle shot for the two.’
Asked to put the loss into context, he insists this wasn’t a case of blowing out a clearcut chance at victory.
‘I never threw it away, that’s for sure. Westy was brilliant today, to shoot 64 around here is world-class. He just outplayed us really, simple as that. I took it on and did what I needed to do, made a bunch of birdies. Just those few mistakes you know … second, third or fourth doesn’t really matter so the final hole doesn’t factor into the equation. Maybe in trying so hard for the win, I tried too much at the end.’
Oosthuizen will remain in the country as he spends time with family and friends before re-sharpening his game ahead of December’s double-header at Leopard Creek and then Randpark – two more opportunities to ease the pain of this defeat.