Oosthuizen earns first major with dominant performance

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2010, 12:57 am

135th Open Championship

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – They will say an ogre won an ugly Open Championship, but that woefully misses the point and wildly underestimates the performance.

This wasn’t the wrong ending, or the wrong player. This was not Stewart Cink, who gutted the crowds and the history books last year at Turnberry, or Paul Lawrie, who did an end-around at Carnoustie in 1999.

This was a masterpiece masked by unfamiliarity at a place as familiar as the claret jug itself. Not even the dulcet tones of Ivor Robson, the venerable first-tee announcer with his signature sing-song cadence, could harmonize Louis Oosthuizen’s name. But then this tour de force needed no window dressing.

For four windswept days the South African was machine-like, clinical, cutthroat, even, not that it’s possible to dismiss the man with the toothy grin as anything even approaching a villain. The man his friends affectionately call Shrek was every bit the loveable antagonist.

If St. Andrews is not big on dog winners – what with a list of past champions that includes the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Bobby Jones – then consider Oosthuizen an aberration, or a prologue. If Oosthuizen isn’t exactly Hall of Fame stuff just yet, his play certainly was.

For the week Oosthuizen was third in putting average (1.676), 12th in greens in regulation (83 percent) and first in driving accuracy (87 percent), a filthy statistic considering the demanding conditions, and posted four sub-par rounds (65-67-69-71) for a 16-under 272 total.

In short, the performance was marquee in every measure save for name.

“That was a frustrating day. I played pretty solidly most of the day and got some bad breaks,” said Paul Casey, who began the final round four strokes back and finished eight adrift. “Having said that even if you take away my mistakes it was never going to be enough to get near Louis. He played in a different league.”

Oosthuizen (pronounced WUHST’-hy-zen) hit fairways, greens and not a single rushed shot. We’ve seen this schtick before when it was called Retief Goosen, the original Grand Slam flat-liner.

Louis Oostheizen
Oosthuizen ran away with the Open Championship finishing at 16-under 272. (Getty Images)

What Oosthuizen lacks in Q rating he more than made up for with quality.

“He’s a proper player, isn’t he?” said Chubby Chandler, Oosthuizen’s manger with International Sports Management. “He’s unbelievably calm. Lee (Westwood) gets calm, but this is something else.”

When Woods won here in 2000 by eight shots he didn’t hit into one of the Old Course’s menacing pot bunkers. Oosthuizen was only one off that pace, lapping the field by seven shots without finding a single bunker.

“To play St. Andrews and not hit in one fairway bunker is unbelievable,” said Zack Rasego, Oosthuizen’s caddie of seven years. “That’s a key for here.”

Many figured Sunday’s action to be a two-man race. That was overly optimistic, which worked out well for the Royal & Ancient engraver who may have ran out of his allotment of vowels etching Oosthuizen’s name onto the claret jug.

After trading pars with Oosthuizen through five holes, a zero-sum game considering the South African’s 54-hole cushion, Casey rolled in a 4 footer at the sixth for birdie and closed to within three strokes after the front-runner bogeyed the eighth, his first misstep in 24 holes.

Oosthuizen answered with a 40-footer for eagle at the ninth and the match went virtually dormie at the 12th hole when Casey’s tee shot sailed into a gorse bush and Oosthuizen made birdie – an 8-and-6 walkover that made the inward loop a formality. Not that the 27-year-old whose real name, Lodewicus Theodorus for those looking to buy a vowel, is an announcer’s nightmare had any interest in premature celebrations.

Even with a touchdown cushion and major championship golf’s most-welcoming closer, it wasn’t until Oosthuizen hit his tee shot onto the green at the last that he exhaled.

“When my tee shot was done at 18 that was it. I definitely wasn’t going to 10-putt,” smiled Oosthuizen, who followed Tony Lema’s lead, the last little-known St. Andrews Open champion, and treated the media to a champagne celebration after his victory.

There had been little to suggest there was such a performance stirring within Oosthuizen. He’d missed the cut in three previous Open Championships and had not made it to the weekend in seven of the eight majors he’s played.

But his victory earlier this year on the European Tour was an espresso shot to his confidence, his swing was smooth and flawless when he arrived at St. Andrews and with a lifetime of playing golf in the wind near Cape Town the cosmic tumblers were long ago set in motion, even if the rest of us had turned a blind eye.

Even more impressive than his ball-striking clinic was the way in which Oosthuizen handled, or was it dismissed, the pressures of major championship golf. Before he teed off for the final round Oosthuizen told Chandler he was “bored” and Rasego said he never sensed even a hint of nervousness.

“This was the moment in time when he had to enjoy himself because it’s either now or never,” Rasego said.

A bogey at 17 and par at 18 only softened the blow for a shell-shocked field. If the overnights suffered from Oosthuizen’s stunner, there was some solace to be had in a performance that was at least Tiger-like.

Not that Woods himself had much to show for his week along the Firth of Forth.

Woods’ tie for 23rd place fell five strokes shy of the third leg of the T-4 slam, following identical finishes at Augusta National and Pebble Beach, and was more the byproduct of poor putting, or pace, depending on who one asks, than substandard ball-striking.

He was 38th in putting average, 52nd in greens in regulation and 37th in driving accuracy. Not quite 2000, or 2005 for that matter.

For weeks Woods has said he is close, but late one night in front of the famed Dunvegan, the quintessential St. Andrews pub, one of the frat brothers gave the most ringing endorsement of the world No. 1’s status.

“He’s this close to Tiger 2000,” said one major champion holding his thumb and forefinger inches apart. “When he gets it, we’re all screwed.”

As for those who say Woods’ 0-for-3 start to a Grand Slam season that pre-Nov. 27 looked like low-hanging fruit is a harbinger of slumps to come, consider that at 34 years old Jack Nicklaus had won just 12 of his 18 majors while Woods already has 14 Grand Slam bottle caps.

Following his final-round Woods was asked what he would remember of his fourth Open Championship at St. Andrews?

“I didn’t win, just like ’95,” he said flatly.

So much for the Grand Slam tap-in, but it’s good to know second still sucks.

By contrast, Phil Mickelson teed off with little or no expectations on Thursday with 13 clubs in the bag, adding to the litany of curious club combos the left-hander has marched onto the pitch with, but it did little to help his links resume.

A last-minute check to be sure his new putter conformed to the Rules of Golf forced Lefty to head down the first fairway with only 13 clubs. By the time he reached the first green officials had already returned it to him, and by the time Mickelson finished the week tied for 48th he should have been more concerned with his iron play having finished 73rd, last among those who made the cut, in greens in regulation.

Such was life at the strangest of Opens, a championship that began under a pall when Seve Ballesteros withdrew from the much-anticipated Champion’s Challenge and only became darker and more foreboding as the week progressed.

Weather forced the cancellation of the four-hole Champion’s Challenge and then, inexplicably, stopped play for an hour on Friday as officials waited for the winds to abate, or the grass to grow. Neither happened and the first weather suspension at the Open Championship since 1998 was largely panned by players and pundits as a waste of time.

“If you went to every green and said where’s the worst place we can put these pins, they did it on 18 greens,” Oliver Wilson said after missing the cut and playing through the worst of Friday’s gale. “Whoever set those pins should be fired.”

Not that the 150th anniversary was an entirely maudlin affair. John Daly resurrected ghosts of his 1995 victory at St. Andrews, if not his career, with a first-round 66 that put him three shots behind Rory McIlroy, who opened with 63 to momentarily steal the spotlight from Oosthuizen. And Tom Watson crossed the Swilken Bridge for the last time in an Open Championship late Friday.

But by the time the winds calmed and the stars flickered out, there was only Oosthuizen, whose nickname Shrek seemed a perfect metaphor for the mysterious new champion golfer who freely admits to bouts of anger and a lack of focus at times on the golf course.

“It's the gap in the teeth. My friends say I look like Shrek, some of my friends, and you can't choose your friends, so what can I say?” Oosthuizen said.

And, contrary to 137 years of history, the Old Course can’t pick its champions. But then who is to say Oosthuizen is not worthy after 72 flawless holes in fierce conditions?

For Open Championship week Chandler rented out the Jigger Inn, the storied pub next to the Old Course Hotel that overlooks the 17th fairway. Early Sunday he leaned in to whisper the password for entry to an acquaintance, “Tomorrow.” Or maybe he was just looking forward to Oosthuizen’s instantly-bright future.

Geoff Ogilvy and family at the 2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play. Getty Images

Notes: Ogilvy moving family to Australia

By Doug FergusonMay 22, 2018, 6:55 pm

Geoff Ogilvy's immediate future involves fewer golf tournament and longer flights.

Ogilvy has been contemplating in the last few years moving back home to Australia, and after discussing it with his Texas-born wife, Juli, they plan to return to Melbourne shortly after Christmas.

Their daughter, Phoebe, turns 12 in October and will be starting the seventh grade in Australia. They have two sons, Jasper (10) and Harvey (8). The Ogilvys figured that waiting much longer to decide where to live would make it tougher on the children.

''We just talked about it, for lots of reasons, and we kept making pros and cons. Juli was strong on it,'' Ogilvy said. ''We're excited. I'm at the point where I'm not going to play 27 times a year. It's going to be brutal to play from there. But you've got to choose life.''

Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and he counts three World Golf Championships among his eight PGA Tour victories. He also has won the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship and has reached No. 3 in the world.

His last victory was in 2014, and Ogilvy has slipped to No. 416 in the world.

He has been dividing some of his time with a golf course design business with projects that include Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas, (including a ''Little Nine'' course that opened last year), a renovation in China and a 36-hole course called Peninsula Kingwood in Melbourne.

Ogilvy, who grew up at Victoria Golf Club, still has a home on the 14th hole of the West Course at Royal Melbourne. If he didn't move back home, Ogilvy figured he would be spending six months in Melbourne and six months in Scottsdale, Arizona.

''It's a feeling more than anything,'' he said. ''Scottsdale is dreamy. We live a great existence. I know what I'm getting there. If we didn't move back, we'd be a six-and-six family. The kids get out of school, and they're bounced back and forth. It's not good for continuity.''

As for golf?

Ogilvy narrowly kept his full PGA Tour card last year and this season has been a struggle. He hasn't sorted out what kind of schedule he would keep, understanding it would involve long trips from Sydney to Dallas.

The immediate goal would be to play a heavy fall schedule and miss most of the West Coast swing to get acclimated to the move.

''And then we'll start working it out,'' he said.

US OPEN QUALIFYING: The U.S. Open likes to consider its championship the most democratic of the majors, and it has it just about right again this year. With the addition of 23 players who became exempt by being in the top 60 in the world ranking, 77 players in the 156-man field are exempt from qualifying. That number could go up slightly with another cutoff for the top 60 the Sunday before U.S. Open week.

The U.S. Open is the only American major that does not offer automatic exemptions to PGA Tour winners. Five such winners from this season still face qualifying, including Patton Kizzire, who has won twice (OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open). The others are Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Andrew Landry and Aaron Wise.

Kizzire is at No. 63 in the world, followed by Wise (66) and Landry (69). All have three weeks to crack the top 60.

Until 2011, the U.S. Open offered exemptions to multiple PGA Tour winners since the previous Open. It leans heavily on the world ranking, as do the other majors. It also awards recent major champions and top finishers from the previous U.S. Open, along with the Tour Championship field from the previous year, to reward a consistently strong season.

''All of the tours around the world have bought into the official world golf ranking rankings,'' said Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director of rules and open championships. ''And this provides just the right place for us to be with exemptions. We don't have to get into the weighting of one tour over another, this championship versus that event, a week-to-week event. We focus on the official world golf rankings and it seems to get us the right players for our championship.''

FICKLE GAME: Careers can change quickly in golf. No one can attest to that as well as Michael Arnaud.

The 36-year-old Arnaud had never finished better than a tie for fifth in his 49 starts on the Web.com Tour, and that was three years ago. His career earnings were just over $130,000. He had only made it into one previous event this year, and he wasn't in the field at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina last week until Kent Bulle withdrew on the eve of the event.

Arnaud tied the course record with a 60 in the second round. He closed with a 63 and won by five shots.

He won $126,000 and moved to No. 13 on the money list, giving him a reasonable chance to reach the PGA Tour if he finishes the season in the top 25.

''A lot of people kept pushing me when I wanted to step away from it,'' Arnaud said. ''My wife was one of those that told me to take the chance and go. Low and behold it really paid off.''

SHINNECOCK SAVANT: Rory McIlroy is excited to get back to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open, a course he already has played a few times.

Equally excited is his manager, Sean O'Flaherty, who knows the course on New York's Long Island better than McIlroy.

O'Flaherty spent two summers as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills.

He went to college at Trinity in Dublin, had friends in the Hamptons and came over during the summer months in 2002 and 2003 to work as a caddie.

''I got to know a lot of members,'' O'Flaherty said. ''I can't wait. To me, it's the best course in the world.''

DIVOTS: Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Feb. 25 at No. 4 in the world. No one from the top 10 in the world has won a PGA Tour event since then, a stretch of 12 tournaments. ... Guy Kinnings is leaving IMG after nearly 30 years to become the deputy CEO and Ryder Cup director of the European Tour. He will report directly to European Tour chief Keith Pelley. ... The LPGA tour will play in China during its fall Asia swing at the Buick LPGA Shanghai at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The tournament will be Oct. 18-21, one week before the men play the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai. ... Alice Chen of Furman has been selected for the Dinah Shore Trophy, awarded to top college women who excel in golf, academics and work off the golf course. ... The Irish Open is going to Lahinch Golf Club in 2019, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley serving as the tournament host.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Matt Kuchar, Peter Uihlein and Jhonattan Vegas are the only players to compete in all five Texas events on the PGA Tour this year.

FINAL WORD: ''The sum of his shots seems to add up to slightly less than the sum of the shots from another guy.'' - Geoff Ogilvy on Jordan Spieth.

Getty Images

Arizona's run continues, knocks off top seed to reach semis

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 6:35 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – The No. 1 seed in match play has still never won the women’s NCAA Championship.

That dubious distinction continued Tuesday at Karsten Creek when Arizona knocked out top-seeded UCLA on the final hole of the final match.

With the matches tied at 2 apiece, the anchor match between Arizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan and UCLA freshman Patty Tavatanakit was tied on the 18th hole, a par 5 that’s reachable in two shots by many.

Tavatanakit was just short of the green in two and Pagdanganan, the Wildcats’ hero from Monday when she made eagle on the last hole to give her team a shot at match play, blasted her second shot onto the green. Tavatanakit failed to get up and down – missing a 4-footer for birdie – and Pagdanganan two-putted for birdie to give Arizona the victory.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

“We’re lucky to be in match play,” Arizona coach Laura Ianello said. “Let’s ride the highs. Why not?”

Arizona will now face Stanford in the semifinals. The Cardinal, the 2015 champion and 2016 runner up, has qualified for match play in each of the past four seasons. They beat Northwestern, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to advance.

USC will face Alabama in the other semifinal, meaning three Pac-12 teams have advanced to the Final Four. The Crimson Tide had an easy go of it in their quarterfinal match against Kent State, winning 4-1. The decisive victory gave Alabama extra rest for its afternoon match.

USC beat Duke, 3-1-1, in the other quarterfinal, pitting teams that have combined to win nine NCAA titles in the past 20 years. But neither team has had much success in the past four years since the championship turned to match play. Not only has neither team won, neither has even reached the championship match.

Duke’s Leona Maguire won the first match and the second match was halved, but USC swept the last three matches with Gabriela Ruffels, Alyaa Abdulghany and Amelia Garvey all winning to propel the Trojans into the semifinals.

Alabama (2) vs. USC (3)

2:30PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (A) vs. Jennifer Chang (USC)

2:40PM ET: Kristen Gillman (A) vs. Amelia Garvey (USC)

2:50PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (A) vs. Allisen Corpuz (USC)

3:00PM ET: Lakareber Abe (A) vs. Alyaa Abdulghany (USC)

3:10PM ET: Angelica Moresco (A) Gabriela Ruffels (USC)

Stanford (5) vs. Arizona (8)

3:20PM ET: Emily Wang (S) vs. Gigi Stoll (A)

3:30PM ET: Shannon Aubert (S) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (A)

3:40PM ET: Mika Liu (S) vs. Haley Moore (A)

3:50PM ET: Albane Valenzuela (S) vs. Sandra Nordaas (A)

4:00PM ET: Andrea Lee (S) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (A)

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals were contested Tuesday morning with semifinals in the afternoon. The finals are being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play semifinals (Click here to watch live)

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Spieth grouped with Kisner, Stricker at Colonial

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 5:34 pm

It's a short commute for the PGA Tour this week, as Colonial Country Club sits less than an hour away from last week's host site, Trinity Forest. Here's a look at some of the marquee, early-round groupings at the Fort Worth Invitational, where local favorite Jordan Spieth will look to contend at "Hogan's Alley" for the fourth straight year (all times ET):

8:55 a.m. Thursday, 1:55 p.m. Friday: Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler

Rahm impressed in his Colonial debut last year, finishing T-2 in his first trip around one of the Tour's most historic venues. He returns this week and will play alongside DeChambeau, who missed the cut in his first two Colonial appearances but has played well this year, and Fowler, who makes his first trip to Fort Worth since missing the cut in 2014.

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

9:06 a.m. Thursday, 2:06 p.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Steve Stricker

Spieth has had great success at Colonial, with his 2016 title sandwiched between a runner-up in 2015 to Chris Kirk and one last year behind Kisner, who returns to defend his title on the heels of two straight missed cuts. Stricker, who won here in 2009, returns for the fourth straight year after a T-7 finish last year.

1:55 p.m. Thursday, 8:55 a.m. Friday: Aaron Wise, Zach Johnson, Justin Rose

At age 21, Wise became the Tour's latest winner when he cruised to a three-shot victory Sunday in Dallas, and he'll play the first two rounds alongside a pair of major champs. Johnson won here in 2010 and 2012 and remains the tournament's leading money-winner, while Rose opted to skip the European Tour's flagship event to make his first start in Fort Worth since 2010.

2:06 p.m. Thursday, 9:06 a.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott

Simpson tees it up for the first time since his victory at TPC Sawgrass, and he does so on a layout where he has cracked the top five each of the last two years. Koepka will be making his Colonial debut, while Scott returns to a course where he won as world No. 1 back in 2013 as he continues his quest to crack the OWGR top 60 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open.