Clarke finds form as Oosthuizen seals title
Published 10/01/2011 | 05:00
Rising English star Chris Wood narrowly missed out on a maiden professional victory after British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen won a three-man play-off to clinch the Africa Open title in South Africa yesterday.
Oosthuizen holed from 15 feet for birdie on the first extra hole, the par-four 18th, to clinch a third European Tour title.
Wood and Spain's Manuel Quiros could only manage pars after the trio had finished regulation play tied on 18- under par.
Darren Clarke had an impressive day four, ending with a 68 for a tournament total of eight-under 284 and a share of 26th place, while Gareth Maybin shot a final-round two-under-par 71 to finish joint 38th on six-under.
Wood made his name in 2008 when he was the top amateur at the British Open at Royal Birkdale, finishing fifth.
He led for a large part yesterday and had to watch agonisingly as Quiros closed with three consecutive birdies to join him on 16-under 276 after a round of 69.
The 23-year-old from Bristol had also just about completed his round in 68 when Oosthuizen made eagle on the par-five 15th.
The South African, who carded 70, failed to pick up any more shots over his last three holes, despite going close with a straightforward chip at the last that ended up two feet to the left.
In the play-off on the par-four 18th, world No 21 Oosthuizen had the worst drive of the trio, but his second shot landed in the best position -- Wood was more than 20 feet from the hole, while Quiros was just of the green.
Both missed their attempts, which meant less pressure for the golfer from Mossel Bay, and he made full use to win in what was his debut in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.
"The whole day was a bit of a struggle," Oosthuizen said. "I didn't get anything in the hole and made that putt on 15 which helped.
"Then I made this one (in the play-off ) which was nice. I hit a terrible tee shot and then hit a full-go sand-wedge to get close. Then I made the putt, it was great."
Reflecting on his start to the year, Oosthuizen conceded that he would need to improve on his putting.
"It's been one of those weeks where the putter was very cold," he said. "But my caddie kept me calm and said it would go in eventually.
"So I kept on trying and made that nice one on the last, which I will remember."
As for his debut in the tournament where he picked up the €158,500 top prize, he added: "It's always nice playing in South Africa and you want to perform.
"This week there was a great field here and playing with Retief (Goosen) and (Darren) Clarke was really special. If you look at the leaderboard there were just big names up there so I think it was a great tournament."
Steven O'Hara carded the joint-best score of the final day -- a seven-under 66 that helped him end a shot back on a 15-under aggregate, alongside defending champion Charl Schwartzel and Jaco Van Zyl (both 70).
The Scotsman, who shot 72, 71 and 68 in his previous three rounds, was bogey-free yesterday and flew around the par-73 East London Golf Club course with seven birdies.
Englishman Robert Dinwiddie (69) ended all alone on 14-under 278, while Shaun Norris, one of the other players who managed a 66 in round four, was a further shot back on 13-under along with five others, among them round-three co-leader Markus Brier (73) from Austria and England's Miles Tunnicliff (71).