Oosthuizen rallies, repeats in South Africa
Durban, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Louis Oosthuizen birdied his final two holes on Sunday to overtake Branden Grace and retain his Volvo Golf Champions title.
With Grace in the clubhouse at 11-under, Oosthuizen birdied the 17th to pull even with his fellow South African, then drove to the edge of the green at the par-4 last, chipped within two feet and kicked in the birdie putt for the victory.
"It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I'm just happy that I got it done," said Oosthuizen. "It's an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it's great."
Oosthuizen, who began the day two strokes off Tommy Fleetwood's lead, fired a 4-under 68 at Durban Country Club to finish 72 holes at 12-under-par 276. The 31-year-old claimed his seventh European Tour title and first since winning this event a year ago.
Grace, the 2012 winner, also shot 68 to take second place at 11-under 277. Fleetwood carded a 72 and shared third with Joost Luiten (71) at minus-10.
"I thought I played some superb golf today," said Grace. "I let a couple slip out there, which was unfortunate, but it was a good one."
Padraig Harrington matched the low round of the day with a 67, which allowed the Irishman to grab a share of fifth at 9-under. The three-time major champion ended alongside first-round leader Raphael Jacquelin (69) and Victor Dubuisson (72).
Fleetwood stretched his lead to three strokes in the early going, but he stumbled to three bogeys in a five-hole span from the fifth, opening the door for Grace and Oosthuizen.
Grace initially vaulted in front with a hat trick of birdies from the sixth, but Oosthuizen, playing a group behind his compatriot, holed a 12-foot eagle putt at the eighth to pull even.
The duo traded the lead several times during the closing stretch, with Oosthuizen dropping a shot at the 10th before jumping ahead courtesy of back-to-back birdies from the 13th.
Grace parred five straight around the turn, then bogeyed the 15th to drop two back. He righted himself with a birdie at No. 16, which Oosthuizen subsequently bogeyed to again square things.
After a par at the 17th, Grace birded the last to hit the clubhouse with the lead, but Oosthuizen closed in style to retain his title.
The former Open champion sent his approach within two feet at the 17th and rolled that home for birdie to pull even.
"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," Oosthuizen said.
At the last, he nearly found the green off the tee, then deftly got up-and- down for the win.
"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," explained the repeat champion.
NOTES: Oosthuizen has now captured a European Tour title in each of the last five seasons, a new record for active players on the tour ... This is the second different European Tour event that Oosthuizen has won in back-to-back years. The first was the Africa Open in 2011-2012 ... Eight of the last 11 European Tour events in South Africa have been won by home players.
01/12 11:08:59 ET