ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND |
When the 27-year-old
Louis Oosthuizen held The Open Championship
Claret Jug aloft, the first person he mentioned
was Nelson Mandela, who turned 92 Sunday.
“He’s done so much for our country,” explained
the winner. “I saw on the morning news that it was
his birthday and things felt special.”
Seven ahead of Lee Westwood as he left the
71st green, Oosthuizen had allowed his thoughts
to stray to Mandela as he walked down the last
fairway. He could afford that luxury for he knew
by then that he had the title in the bag, his bag.
“I wasn’t,” he said wryly, “about to 10-putt or
In fact, he had a finishing par to tack a 71 to
earlier scores of 65, 67 and 69. On 272, he kept his
seven-shot advantage over runner-up Westwood
and finished eight clear of the trio of Rory McIlroy,
Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.
No one in his or her right mind would have
expected Oosthuizen to win a major before any
of the above. In his previous seven Open Cham-
pionships, he had four times failed to qualify and
thrice missed the cut.
Yet, over the week, no one was more deserv-
ing than he was. “He tackled everything that was
thrown at him,” Westwood said.
With a couple of exceptions, most of what was
thrown at him came from too far away to make
any great impact.
He had dropped a shot at the short eighth to
have his four-shot lead over Casey cut to three
and Casey, by way of cashing in on the situation,
had knocked his drive 10 yards from the flag at the
352 yards ninth. Gary Player had warned Oosthui-
zen that the crowd would be “on Paul’s side” and
Oosthuizen would never have been more uncom-
fortably aware of that fact than he was then.
LOWEST SCORE IN RELATION TO PAR IN A MAJOR
Tiger Woods 2000 Open Championship
Tiger Woods 2006 Open Championship
Tiger Woods 2000 PGA Championship
Bob May 2000 PGA Championship
Tiger Woods 1997 Masters
Nick Faldo 1990 Open Championship
Bobby Locke, who won in 1957, but when Oosthui-
zen arranged champagne for the press, his name
was being bracketed rather more with that of
Tony Lema, “Champagne Tony,” who did the same
when he won over the Old Course in 1964.
a large capital infusion from a company based in
Palm Beach, Fla. The Oosthuizen victory was just
more good news. “He’s going to play all around
the world and people will love him,” Chandler said
when asked what the win would mean to Oosthui-
zen. “The trick is to say ‘yes’ to the right ones.”
Meanwhile, when the 20-year-old Jin Jeong
won the Amateur Championship at Muirfield, he
putted Scotland’s James Byrne off the course as
he holed 25-footers with a still greater regularity
than many of his fellow amateurs were making
their six-footers. At St. Andrews, Jeong did still
more to make members of Melbourne’s Waver-
ley Club – he has lived in Australia since he was
16 – feel proud. Though the amateur medal was
already his after opening scores of 68 and 70, he
was still chasing the Claret Jug and ended up in a
share of 14th place. He is expected to turn
professional after next year’s Masters.
Stenson, his Saturday playing companion, was
hugely taken with what he saw of the young man.
“He’s got an extreme talent,” said the Swede.
It will be fun to see where it takes him.
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