Matt Jones won the silverware, but it was Louis Oosthuizen who created the drama on a pulsating final day of the Emirates Australian Open.
Oosthuizen, the South African who was ultimately runner-up by a shot, showed exactly why he is one of the best players in the world, shooting a five-under par 66 including a sensational eagle at the 72nd hole that for a moment, threatened to turn the result on its head.
It was a two-man battle down the stretch, and Oosthuizen knew when he came to the 18th tee that he needed eagle to have a chance of winning, or at least force a playoff.
He delivered it in the most spectacular way; a smoked drive down the fairway, a hybrid club from more than 200 metres that bounced on the front of the green, ran up the ridge on the left side and stopped just four metres from the flag. Oosthuizen knew it was good. He was walking after it before it even landed.
Under the pressure, it might have been the shot of the tournament, a rifle shot that rang out in front of the amphitheatre around the 18th green at an iconic place in Australian golf.
The putt for a three never deviated and dropped in.
The South African world No. 24 posted 15-under, and waited in the scorers’ hut beside the first fairway as Jones, a hole behind, faltered for a few moments but finally holed out for par five, and the win.
“I think coming on the back nine I just wanted to try and get some numbers up there so that he (Jones) is a little bit under pressure, but he did really well and the whole day he was three shots ahead,’’ said Oosthuizen. “I had to do something and I went for it on the last and it paid off and made a nice eagle.’’
Oosthuizen was on a flight to Melbourne soon after the finish on to the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, where he will be arguably the pivotal player in Ernie Els’ International team.
Like Marc Leishman, who will also be in the International team, the South African predicted that American Patrick Reed would cop some ribbing from the crowds at Royal Melbourne after the rules controversy of this weekend in the Bahamas.
“I think the crowd’s going to have a nice time with him,’’ said Oosthuizen. “We’re focused on what we want to achieve and what we want to do. He brought those things on himself so I can imagine he’s going to have a tough time next week with the crowd.’’
He said he had used the week as preparation for Melbourne, and that it worked nicely for him. “Game face is on now and I’m ready.’’
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