Oosthuizen wins Open in dominating fashion

By Doug FergusonJuly 18, 2010, 11:33 pm

Open 125w

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Hardly anyone knew Louis Oosthuizen, much less how to pronounce his name. Not many will forget the performance he delivered at the home of golf to capture the British Open on Sunday.

A week after the World Cup ended, South Africa had more reason to celebrate, this from a most unlikely source. Oosthuizen, a 27-year-old who had only made one cut in his previous eight majors, blew away the field at St. Andrews for a victory that looked as easy as when Tiger Woods first won here a decade ago.

Oosthuizen made only two bogeys over the final 35 holes in a strong wind that swept across the Old Course. He led over the final 48 holes and closed with a 1-under 71 for a seven-shot victory over Lee Westwood of England.

Oosthuizen could not think of a more special venue to capture his first major. He just had no idea it would be this easy.

He never let anyone get within three shots of him in the final round, and he answered that brief challenge from Paul Casey by knocking in a 50-foot eagle putt on the par-4 ninth green to restore his cushion. Casey’s hopes ended with a triple bogey into the gorse three holes later, and Oosthuizen spent the final hour soaking up an atmosphere unlike any other in golf.

“That eagle on nine, that got me started,” Oosthuizen said. “It was a big change on 12 when Paul made triple and I made birdie. All of a sudden, it was mine to throw away.”

He finished at 16-under 272 and became the first player since Tony Lema in 1964 to win his first major at St. Andrews. With the fifth victory of his career, Oosthuizen moved to No. 15 in the world. And as a sign just how global golf has become, it’s the second time this decade that the four major championship trophies reside on four continents.

“Nobody was going to stop him,” said Casey, whose adventures in the gorse sent him to a 75 and a tie for third with Rory McIlroy (68) and Henrik Stenson (71). “He didn’t miss a shot today. I don’t know if he missed one all week. That was four days of tremendous golf. He didn’t flinch today.”

No, there was only that gap-tooth smile that earned him the nickname “Shrek” from his friends. And there was amazement across his face when he cradled the oldest trophy in golf, a silver claret jug with his name etched alongside Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and the other South African winners –  Gary Player, Bobby Locke and Ernie Els, his mentor.

Louis Oostheizen
Oosthuizen cruised to a seven-shot victory at the Open Championship. (Getty Images)

Without the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation in South Africa, Oosthuizen, the son of a farmer, could not have afforded the travel required to reach the game’s highest level.

Some 45 miles (70 kilometers) away, Player was returning from a golf outing and listening to every shot on the radio, proud as can be. He saw the potential during a practice round they played at the Masters this year.

Player called Oosthuizen on Sunday morning and gave him a pep talk.

“I told him he’s got to realize that lots of people are hitting bad shots,” Player said, not know how few of those the kid would hit. “And I told them the crowd was naturally going to show a bias. But I reminded him when I played Arnold Palmer in 1961 at the Masters, only my wife and my dog was pulling for me. I told him he’s got to get in there and be more determined to win.”

Oosthuizen was relaxed as could be, putting his arm around caddie Zack Rasego after hitting off the 18th tee and walking over the Swilcan Bridge, thousands of fans packed into the grandstands, along the road and peering out the shop windows.

The timing could not have been better for a South African to claim a major –  that’s five majors for the Springboks since 2001. Not only is the country still buzzing, Sunday was the 92nd birthday of Nelson Mandela.

“It’s a proud moment for us, especially with the Old Man, winning on his birthday,” Rosega said. “Winning at St. Andrews, it’s unbelievable. He deserves what he’s just done.”

The 150th anniversary of golf’s oldest championship was memorable in so many ways.

It began with Rory McIlroy tying the major championship record with a 63 in some of the calmest conditions at the Old Course. It ended with someone other than Woods hoisting the claret jug in front of the Royal and Ancient clubhouse.

Woods tapped in on the final hole and removed his cap to salute the gallery, just as he did the last two Opens at St. Andrews. Only this time, the tournament was still two hours from finishing. Woods made two double bogeys on his way to a 72 and tied for 23rd.

It was his seventh tournament of the year without a victory, matching the longest drought of his career.

“I’m not going to win all of them,” Woods said after his worst 72-hole finish in a major in six years. “I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve won.”

No way he was going to win this one. Neither was anyone else.

Oosthuizen might have been nervous, but it didn’t show. Charl Schwartzel, his best friend from their junior golf days in South Africa, ran into him on Saturday and said Oosthuizen was showing him comedy videos on his phone.

“This was about an hour before he teed off,” Schwartzel said.

If anyone showed nerves, it was Casey. With the warm applause from a British gallery that had not seen one of its own holding a claret jug in 11 years, he hit wedge to 4 feet below the hole at No. 1 to send a message. The birdie putt caught the right lip, however, and it took until the sixth hole before Casey could make a birdie.

He wasn’t alone. Of the final 10 players to tee off, only Retief Goosen made a birdie on any of the opening five holes.

Oosthuizen plodded along with pars.

“He’s doing all the things he needs to do,” said Woods, who has more experience than anyone playing from ahead in a major. “He’s being consistent, putting all the pressure on Paul to come get him. He doesn’t need to go out there and shoot a low round today.”

Oosthuizen went 24 consecutive holes without a bogey until his streak ended on the par-3 eighth hole by missing a 6-foot par putt. That trimmed his lead to three, and Casey hit driver onto the par-4 ninth green.

Whatever momentum he had didn’t last long. Oosthuizen also drove the ninth green and holed his 50-foot eagle putt to restore the lead to four shots, same as when he started. And this Open effectively ended three holes later.

Casey drove into the gorse bushes left of the 12th, took a drop back toward the seventh fairway, came up short of the green and wound up making a triple bogey, dropping him eight shots behind.

Oosthuizen spent the final hour with a big grin on his face, although he started out that way, too.

The biggest smile came on the 18th green, with a hug for Rasego, and an embrace with wife Nel-Mare and seven-month-old daughter Jana. It will be years before the child can appreciate the magnitude of this moment.

“I will say, ‘That’s the day Daddy makes us the proudest,”’ his wife said. “And we’ll never forget it.”

Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.