Louis Oosthuizen eases to SA Open victory: "Hard to describe how much this means"


Louis Oosthuizen eased to a six-shot victory during the final round of the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannasburg

Louis Oosthuizen got off to a nervy start during the final round on the Firethorn Course at Randpark Golf Club, but recovered in emphatic style as he eased to a six-shot victory over Romain Langasque at his home Open.

Oosthuizen had entered the final round with a three shot lead but quickly saw that reduce to one when he dropped back-to-back shots on the 2nd and 3rd holes. The South African quickly recovered though with birdies on the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to push back ahead, following it up with a string of pars and a near tap-in eagle on the 14th to increase his lead to six. 

He pushed his advantage briefly to seven strokes with a further birdie on the 16th, but handed that shot back immediately on the 17th before a par on the last secured a 67 and his first win at the South African Open at 18-under-par.

For Oosthuizen, who was teeing up in this event for the first time since he finished third in 2011, it was an emotional victory. 

“I wish the family was here,” said Oosthuizen.

“The crowd was great this whole week. It was nice to do it for them. I knew today was either going to be very special or heartbreaking."

"We had a tough start today and my caddie just told me, 'you're swinging it well, just go for it'. I just got back to basics, to try and hit fairways and greens. I know I'm putting well, I just needed to give myself putting opportunities for birdie.

With his win, Oothuizen has become just the sixth player to win both the South African Open and The Open, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson.

"I know there’s only a few that have won the [British] Open and the SA Open so I’m very chuffed to have my name on this. This feels very special. This is perfect.”

Langasque had provided the biggest challenge for Oosthuizen over the final round with five birdies and an eagle of his own at the 14th, but a bogey on both the third and 16th cost him a chance of closing the gap any further. 

However, the consellation prize for the Q-School graduate is a big one. He, along with Charl Schwartzel and Ollie Wilson, booked their places in the Open Championship as each player earned one of the qualifying spots available. For Langasque it will be his first appearance as a professional, Schwartzel his 15th, and Wilson his sixth. 

Also tied third with Schwartzel and Wilson were South African's Thomas Aiken and Bryce Easton, who were the unlucky pair to miss out on Open qualification. 

Madalitso Muthiya earned the best-ever finish by a Zambian on the European Tour with a closing 73 to finish in joint seventh place on nine under with Branden Grace, Jbe Kruger, Anthony Michael, Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Yikeun Chang and Jeff Winther.

 Jovan Rebula wins Freddie Tait Cup

Jovan Rebula capped off a stellar 2018 by earning the Freddie Tait Cup, 29 years after his uncle did the same.

The nephew of Ernie Els claimed the Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen earlier this year, and finished tied 24th in the SA Open to add the Freddie Tait Cup to his list of growing accolades. 

"My uncle (Ernie Els) won it in 1989 and I am so incredibly proud that I’ve kept the family tradition going and added my name to the past winner’s list," Rebula said.  

Note: The Freddie Tait Cup is awarded to the lowest amateur in the South African Open (who makes the cut) each year. It is dedicated to the Scottish two-time Amateur Champion Freddie Tait, who was the leading amateur at The Open three times and was killed during the Boer War while on duty in South Africa.