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Oosthuizen cruises to first major title

St. Andrews, Scotland (Sports Network) - There was little drama Sunday at the British Open Championship.

Louis Oosthuizen closed with a one-under 71 to finish his first major championship title at 16-under-par 272. He ended seven strokes clear of Lee Westwood on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

"To win an Open Championship is special, but to win it here at St. Andrews is something you just dream about," Oosthuizen said. "I'm proud of the way I held my nerves around the back nine especially."

The South African eagled the ninth. He made birdie on the 12th while Paul Casey stumbled to a triple-bogey. Oosthuizen was suddenly eight strokes clear of the field and he cruised home from there.

Oosthuizen became the fourth South African to win the Open Championship, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els. Locke also won at St. Andrews.

The 27-year-old Oosthuizen is also the fourth active South African with at least one major championship, joining Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.

Oosthuizen had never been in a position like this in a major championship before. The one previous time he made the cut in a major, at the 2008 PGA Championship, Oosthuizen finished in last place.

Westwood birdied the last for a two-under 70 and took second place at nine- under-par 279.

Casey was briefly within three strokes of the lead when Oosthuizen bogeyed the eighth, but the Englishman ran into trouble at the 12th.

The 32-year-old Casey drove into a gorse bush and made a triple-bogey, which dropped him eight strokes back. He went on to shoot a three-over 75, which left him tied for third with Henrik Stenson (71) and first-round leader Rory McIlroy (68).

Three-time Open champion and world No. 1 Tiger Woods managed an even-par 72 on Sunday to finish at three-under-par 285. That left him tied for 23rd place.

World No. 2 Phil Mickelson stumbled to a three-over 75 to finish in a share of 48th at one-over-par 289.

Stewart Cink, the 2009 champion, closed with a 74 to end alongside Mickelson at plus-one.

Both Oosthuizen and Casey played the front nine in one-under par as Oosthuizen carried a four-stroke lead to the back nine. Both players parred 10 and 11, before the big turning point on the 12th.

After taking an unplayable lie penalty, Casey missed the green with his third. The Englishman chipped over the green with his fourth and eventually walked off with a triple-bogey.

Meanwhile, Oosthuizen chipped his second to 14 feet and poured that putt in for birdie.

The four-stroke swing gave Oosthuizen an eight-stroke margin and it was all but over.

"I think it was a big change on 12 when Paul made triple and I made birdie and all of a sudden it was mine to throw away really," Oosthuizen said.

Oosthuizen did what he had to do from there. He parred his next four holes before hitting a speed bump at the Road Hole, No. 17.

He missed the green short and left, leading to a bogey that cut his winning margin to seven strokes.

"You know at St. Andrews, 14 is a dangerous drive and 17 is a dangerous drive, but I've been hitting my driver so well," admitted Oosthuizen. "I think any other club there, I would have made a bad swing. With a driver, I knew I wouldn't lose it right."

Oosthuizen calmly parred the last and the claret jug was his.

"Whenever I got to the ball, I just focused on the shot," said Oosthuizen. "Even with that big lead, I wanted to take all my time and not do anything silly and put myself under any unnecessary pressure."

Oosthuizen parred his first seven holes of the day to maintain his overnight lead, but he stumbled to a bogey on the eighth to slip to 14-under.

He atoned for that mistake by pouring in an eagle effort on the ninth to get to minus-16. Casey two-putted for birdie on No. 9, but still lost a stroke to the leader and made the turn at 12-under par, four shots back.

Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, took sixth at seven-under-par 281 after a closing 70.

Sean O'Hair and Nick Watney both carded 71s on Sunday to share low American honors. The were joined in seventh place at minus-six by Robert Rock (69) and Martin Kaymer (74).

It was the first time since 1969 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that there were no Americans in the top five at a British Open.

NOTES: Oosthuizen took the outright lead with a birdie on the seventh hole of the second round and never relinquished it...Five of the last six major champions were first-time major winners...Jin Jeong, the reigning British Amateur champion, finished as low amateur. He closed with an even-par 72 to finish at four-under-par 284...The third-round leader has won just 29 of the last 53 British Opens.

07/18 15:04:40 ET

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