Oosthuizen lauds Tjaart's effort
East London - Africa Open champion Louis Oosthuizen has lauded the effort of Tjaart van der Walt after he held off a strong challenge from his countryman in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event at the East London Golf Club.
Oosthuizen's remarkable total of 27 under par, after a closing 67, was enough for a two-shot victory.
"I tried my best to keep him [Van der Walt] under pressure, and I did," Oosthuizen said.
"I hit good shots, and every time he had a pressure putt for pars and sometimes birdies, he did really well.
"At a stage there, if I missed one or two putts, I was behind.
"He played unbelievably, and it's nice seeing him in form again."
Van der Walt, ranked 347th in the world, had shared the lead with Oosthuizen going into the final round as he went in search of his maiden European Tour title.
He hung on doggedly, but the turning point came on the par three 17th hole, where the pair were still tied for the lead standing on the tee.
Van der Walt left his approach just short of the green while Oosthuizen found the green, some 35 feet from the hole.
Van der Walt was unable to make his par, while Oosthuizen slammed in a birdie putt to take a two-shot lead into the last hole, with both players parring the 18th.
"It was tight. Unfortunately Tjaart made that bogey on 17 and I made my putt which made the difference," Oosthuizen said.
"All in all I'm very happy - my first tournament of the season and I can't ask for more."
Earlier, Van der Walt birdied the first three holes in a row in the final round while Oosthuizen put together a birdie, bogey, eagle start.
Oosthuizen, a former British Open champion, threw in one more birdie, offset by one bogey, and while Van der Walt was consistent, with no bogies, he could only manage one birdie.
The co-leaders continued to trade blows after the turn as Oosthuizen went ahead with another birdie on the 11th and Van der Walt made up the stroke on the 13th, before the climax on the 71st hole of the tournament.
Oosthuizen had chances to close out the victory before the 17th but the pressure from Van der Walt made life difficult.
"I was [disappointed] with my pitch on 15," Oosthuizen said.
"I knew as soon as I hit it, it was going to have spin and it was too soft, and I thought I hit a good putt.
"On 16, I can't believe that bunker shot released that far past the pin and I didn't hit a great putt, but I made up for it on 17."
Van der Walt, fresh off securing his card for the 2012 European Tour season, despite playing on five different tours, has finished runner-up at nine previous tournaments.
He came closest to winning an event at the Buick Classic, on the US PGA Tour, in 2005 when he lost in a playoff to Brad Faxon.
Leading and selected scores after final round of Africa Open at par-73, 6 190m East London Golf Club on Sunday (RSA unless noted):
265 - Louis Oosthuizen 69-62-67-67
267 - Tjaart van der Walt 69-64-65-69
268 - Retief Goosen 65-68-66-69
269 - Jaco Van Zyl 71-65-67-66
270 - Alastair Forsyth (SCO) 69-66-68-67
272 - Richard Sterne 69-69-64-70
273 - Danny Willett (ENG) 67-68-65-73
274 - Lyle Rowe 73-68-65-68, Craig Lee (SCO) 68-67-68-71
275 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 73-66-71-65, Peter Karmis 68-70-69-68, Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 72-64-70-69, Magnus Carlsson (SWE) 69-66-70-70
276 - Branden Grace 77-63-69-67, Jaco Ahlers 65-68-73-70, Thomas Aiken 64-69-72-71
277 - David Drysdale (SCO) 72-69-69-67, Reinier Saxton (NED) 71-70-69-67, Jacques Blaauw 70-69-70-68, Dawie van der Walt 70-70-69-68, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 69-66-72-70, Benn Barham (ENG) 70-66-70-71, Tim Sluiter (NED) 68-69-69-71, Joshua Cunliffe 69-68-69-71, Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 69-69-68-71, Darren Fichardt 71-70-65-71, Richard Bland (ENG) 67-69-69-72
278 - David Howell (ENG) 68-69-72-69, George Coetzee 71-68-69-70, Doug McGuigan 70-69-68-71, Danie van Tonder 70-70-67-71, Tyrone Ferreira 68-68-69-73
279 - Garth Mulroy 68-72-68-71
280 - Chris Wood (ENG) 69-71-69-71
281 - Steven O'Hara (SCO) 70-70-70-71