sport

Oosthuizen sets his sights high

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen wants to become a major force again after continuing the dominance of home players at the Volvo Golf Champions.

Oosthuizen was one shot behind compatriot Branden Grace with two holes to play, but birdied them both to card a closing 68 and win by one shot on 12 under par.

That means all seven European Tour events staged at Durban Country Club have now been won by South Africans, while eight of the last 11 tournaments in South Africa have been won by home players.

Oosthuizen won the Open at St Andrews in 2010 and lost a play-off to Bubba Watson for the US Masters in 2012, but lasted one round in the US Open, eight holes in the Open at Muirfield and missed the US PGA entirely last season due to various injury problems.

"I've got three weeks now that I really need to work on my back," Oosthuizen added. "It's still not 100 per cent. Luckily this week I didn't have to hit a lot of drivers, but once I get to Augusta I need to hit driver."

Oosthuizen has now started each of the last four calendar years with a victory thanks to a perfect finish after falling foul of the 16th hole for the second day running.

The 31-year-old followed his triple-bogey seven on Saturday with a bogey five on Sunday to drop one shot behind Grace, who had birdied two of his last three holes to shoot a 68 and set the clubhouse target.

However, as Grace watched on television, Oosthuizen hit a superb approach to two feet on the 17th and then chipped to the same distance on the short par-four 18th to seal the win and first prize of 420,000.

"After my tee shot on 16 I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par," Oosthuizen said. "But when I stood over the ball on 17 I saw that Branden had made birdie on 18 so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.

"And then 18, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it's not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close.

"It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I'm just happy that I got it done. It's an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it's great.

"I haven't really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time."

England's Tommy Fleetwood had held a one-shot advantage heading into the final round and briefly stretched that to three thanks to a birdie at the second and mistakes from his rivals.

However, three bogeys in five holes from the fifth cost Fleetwood a second European Tour title and he had to settle for a closing 72 and a tie for third with Holland's Joost Luiten, with Padraig Harrington and French duo Raphael Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson another shot back on nine under.