Louis Oosthuizen defends Volvo crown

Louis Oosthuizen kisses the Volvo Golf Champions trophy. (Courtesy: European Tour Twitter account)

Louis Oosthuizen kisses the Volvo Golf Champions trophy. (Courtesy: European Tour Twitter account)

With birdies on the 17th and 18th holes at Durban Country Club, Louis Oosthuizen was able to defend his title on Sunday at the Volvo Golf Champions.

What Happened

Oosthuizen entered the day two shots back of the lead held by England’s Tommy Fleetwood, and as usually happens at Durban, players were not going very low, with the 67’s fired by Thomas Aiken and Padraig Harrington ending up as the low marks. Oosthuizen started slow, but made an eagle on the par-5 8th, while the leaders were all crumbling around him. Fleetwood, after an early birdie, would go on to bogey three of his final five holes on the front nine, while Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson, who started Sunday one shot back of Fleetwood, could only manage going out in 36 and 37 respectively. Oosthuizen’s 34 and 2012 champion Branden Grace posting a 33 would put them in good positions heading to the back nine.

Oosthuizen started slowly on the back, opening with a bogey on the par-5 10th, but finished strong, playing the final six holes in 3-under par, while he waited for the final groups to roll in. Outside of Grace, no one was making a charge, and while Fleetwood birdied the 10th and the 18th, the damage incurred from 5-9 would be too much to overcome. Oosthuizen would go on to win by one over Grace to retain his Volvo Golf Champions title.

Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Louis Oosthuizen -12
  • 2. Branden Grace -11
  • T3. Joost Luiten -10
  • T3. Tommy Fleetwood -10
  • T5. Victor Dubuisson -9
  • T5. Padraig Harrington -9
  • T5. Raphael Jacquelin -9

What The Win Means For Oosthuizen

In my betting preview for the event, I mentioned that I didn’t have any idea what to expect from Oosthuizen this week based on the combination of his great track record at Durban and his inconsistency largely due to injuries. This win should mean a lot for Oosthuizen, who after winning this event this time last year, jumped into 4th place in the Official World Golf Rankings. His poor season last year after that win pushed him further and further down the list, but as it stands right now, he’s slated to move into 27th in the rankings, pending the finish of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open.

He’s got arguably the best looking swing in the game, and is usually a joy to watch when he’s healthy, so hopefully gives him a boost to start 2014. Other notes worth mentioning on the win, courtesy the European Tour:

  • 2014 marks the fourth consecutive year that Oosthuizen has won his opening event, which is absolutely crazy.
  • Twelfth professional win, and seventh on the European Tour.
  • Becomes the eighth different player in European Tour history to make a successful defence of two or more different European Tour events. He follows: Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Mark James, Colin Montgomerie, Charl Schwartzel, Tiger Woods and Ian Woosnam.
  • Guarantees his spot in the 2014 WGC-Bridgestone.

Shots of the tournament

We’ll start with the albatross by Luiten, which as I mentioned yesterday, was amazingly matched by James Hahn at Waialae.

luiten dbl eagle

From Saturday’s third round, there were a pair of ridiculously impressive highlights, starting with Oosthuizen going left-handed with his right-handed club turned over, out of the rough. Note that his left-handed swing is still incredibly pure.

01.11.14 oosthuizen left

And then, Charl Schwartzel did this from the cart path:

01.11.14 schwartzel cart path

Harrington’s putting woes

Despite finishing tied for fifth, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is still lamenting his putting woes, something that I touched on in Punch Shots earlier this week.

Other Notes

  • Notable finishes: Thomas Bjorn and Matteo Manassero (T10), Miguel Angel Jimenez and Charl Schwartzel (T15), Paul Casey and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (T19), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (24th) and Peter Uihlein (34th).
  • Good showing from Manassero in his first week with Callaway gear, which I was a little concerned with earlier in the week.
  • Darren Clarke showed up this week in much better shape, looking very svelte. The Daily Mail has a quick piece on the weight loss here.
  • Lastly, we touched on Harrington above, and he had quite an interesting second round when his caddie Ronan Flood couldn’t finish out the day due to an illness. What did Harrington do? Well, he had a friend in attendance, a former photographer back in Ireland named Pat Cashman. Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk has the story, and the European Tour website has a video of Harrington discussing the switch.
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