JOHANNESBURG – In the end, perhaps it was the pressure that was unrelenting throughout the four days that derailed Louis Oosthuizen’s effort to break out of the cycle of falling agonisingly short in major championships.
Whatever it was, his final-round of one-over-par 71 left him four shots off the score of the champion golfer of the year in the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, as an impeccable Collin Morikawa of the United States marched imperiously to his second major title in his debut in the Open.
In truth, Oosthuizen’s agonising miss started in the third round, after two days of precision off the tee, accuracy into the greens and some deadly putting. It all seemed a little tentative in the third round, and that uncertainty characterised his play throughout the tense final round.
A bogey on the fourth was not a disaster as Morikawa seemed to be scrambling for par through that opening stretch. But a bogey on the easiest hole on the course, the par-five seventh – at the same time as Morikawa made a birdie – took the wind out of his sails.
There were moments after that for Oosthuizen, notable when he so nearly holed out in one on the long par-three 11th. Had that gone in, he would have been within two of the eventual champion, and that might have given his play down the stretch some conviction.
But he had become visibly deflated, and that played out in a poor bogey-four on the 13th when he found one of the punitive fairway bunkers at Royal St George’s. He regained the shot with a birdie on the par-five 14th, but there nothing he could do anymore to stop the march to the Claret Jug of Morikawa as the American also made birdie there.
In the end, the thrilling charge by new world number one John Rahm, who couldn’t buy a putt throughout the tournament, really until the 13th, became the closest thing to a threat to Morikawa. Rahm made four successive birdies from that point to finish on 11-under in a share of third with Oosthuizen.
And Jordan Spieth signalled his return to the very highest level with a closing four-under 66 to be runner-up – denying Oosthuizen the dubious honour of a third-successive bridesmaid tag.
Oosthuizen will head home to lick his smarting wounds. But it is clear that he is far from done when it comes to winning majors.
SA Tour Golf