Oostihuizen Takes Victory in Durban while Rookie Henley wins in Hawaii
Oostihuizen Takes Victory in Durban
Volvo Golf Champions | Jan 10-13
Durban Country Club, Durban, South Africa
Louis Oostihuizen shot a final round 66 to overhaul overnight leader Scott Jamieson at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban on Sunday.
Scott Jamieson took a five shot lead into the final round of the Volvo Golf Champions looking to make it back to back wins on the European Tour and in Durban for the twenty nine year old from Glasgow after he picked up victory at the Nelson Mandela at The Royal Durban Golf Club. It was looking likely after two early birdies in the final round. But a double bogey on the 5th reduced his advantage to just three and from there the stony faced Jamieson failed to make another putt.
In contrast Oostihuizen made six birdies in his first eleven holes, banishing thoughts of the poor 74 he shot on Saturday, and found himself leading by one. With a seventh birdie of the day coming at the par five 14th he led by two. A few minutes later Jamieson three putted the same hole and found the task of reeling in local favourite Oostihuizen becoming less likely.
Oostihuizen’s only mistake of the day came after missing a short putt on the 16th. Jamieson also made a bogey on the same hole after a plugged approach and by the time he stepped on the tee at eighteen to watch Oostihuizen tap in for par he knew that only an eagle two would get him into a playoff.
In the end Jamieson was only an inch away from a two after an excellent chip from the back right of the 18th. This resulted in perhaps the first smile of the day for Jamieson but more importantly took him to 15-under and alone in second. Only three players carded a worse score than Jamieson on the final day which must be disappointing for the Scot, however, with second outright he now takes the early lead in the Race To Dubai with a win, a second and a third place in the first three events of the season.
Meanwhile defending champion Branden Grace finally finished his weekend in style by carding a 67 to finish 10-under and a share of seventh place after an opening round of 75. Thongchai Jaidee couldn’t quite keep up the pace after his opening 65 finishing at 14-under to take third. Padraig Harrington opened up his season with four rounds under par to finish fourth at 12-under with Englishman Danny Willet and Frenchman Julien Quesne finishing tied fifth at 11-under.
But it was Louis Oostihuizen who maintained control of the birdies to end the day 16-under and win by one shot over a 33 man field of champions. For Oostihuizen it was all smiles as he felt at home amid the galleries of Durban Country Club.
“It’s always nice playing front of home fans and getting one for them is really special”
This victory takes Louis Oostihuizen up to fourth in the Official World Rankings and he now has seven top 10 finishes in his last eight events.
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Sony Open in Hawaii | Jan 10-13
Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii
Russell Henley finished off the Sony Open with five straight birdies to win by three over Tim Clark, who finished with four straight birdies himself. Showing few signs of nerves the Web.com Tour graduate stayed in control of his emotions and his game to break Sony Open’s 72 hole scoring record.
The first three rounds were dominated by two rookies, Scott Langley and Russell Henley. On Thursday it looked like they hadn’t remembered that this was their first PGA Tour event as bona fide members. Both started off in top gear, with Henley carding two 63s for a halfway lead at 14-under, and Langley holing a tournament record of 198ft of putts on Thursday for an 8-under 62. By Saturday night they jointly led the field by three at 17-under and still it appeared no one had told them that it was their first PGA start.
In the final round, the first sign of nerves came for Langley with a bogey at the very first hole. In contrast Henley birdied it and therein held an early two shot lead. Another bogey at the 7th saw Langley effectively trying to play catchup for the rest of the round. For Langley, who couldn’t miss a putt on the first three days, to miss such a hatful on the front nine on Sunday looked almost out of character, but Sunday is always a more difficult day to play on Tour, especially for a rookie in the final group.
There were experienced veterans chasing them down, Matt Kuchar started the day six back and shot a 65 to finish tied fifth at 16-under, Charles Howell III who finished tied second last year, started the day four behind and looked to rally after eagling the 9th to get within one of the leader Henley. But the birdies ran out on the back nine and he finished with a 66 and tied third with Scott Langley who could only muster a level par 70, both finishing at 17-under. Tim Clark started just three behind the rookie leaders and played alongside them in the final group. A steady start got better after birdies at the 8th and 9th which took him just two behind going into the back nine. Clark tried to stay with Henley and despite closing out with four straight birdies finished second, three behind Henley at 21-under.
There was a notable return to form for 2009 PGA Champion Y.E. Yang who shot a 63 to finish 11-under and in a tie for 20th. There was another strong showing from Vijay Singh who also finished at 11-under. However last weeks winner Dustin Johnson bailed out of the event halfway through his second round whilst at +3.
But the day and the tournament belonged to Henley who never relinquished the lead on the final day and charged the back nine in just 29 shots including birdies on the last five holes. Henley, who won twice on the Web.com Tour to earn his card, had played 50 holes without carding a bogey until the 8th where a succession of poor shots resulted in a dropped shot. However this proved the only blip on an otherwise flawless round of golf where nerves did not prevail.
With practically every box ticked on his pre-season to-do list, including a Masters invite, a two year exemption and a $990,000 winners cheque, it remains an exciting prospect to see what further impact Henley might make on the PGA Tour without the burdens and stresses of Tour survival to consider.
“This is the most nervous I’ve been and that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m kind of speechless right now…it’s been my dream to play the Masters” said Henley after his win which also takes him into the Top 50 in the Official World Rankings, meaning Henley will soon be teeing it up with the very best at the forthcoming WGC events where his mettle will be tested once more.
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