For Louis Oosthuizen, there is a silver lining, albeit not a particularly consoling one.
At least he didn’t finish second.
Opening the championship with a record tying low score of 64, Oosthuizen was the British Open headliner the past three days. He had the lead after each round at Royal St. George’s, still had it on Sunday morning. What’s more, he was a sympathetic figure, with runner-up finishes at both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open earlier this year. Moreover, he had second-place finishes in six majors, since winning this 161-year-old shooting match at St. Andrews in 2010.
Surely, the 11-year wait was over. Surely, the effortless move and easygoing mood would be rewarded. This time — surely — he would make the walk up the 18th fairway with the championship in hand.
But Oosthuizen is not given to such romantics. When he finished a 1-over 69 on Saturday evening, he answered questions about Sunday knowing nothing was guaranteed.
“A lead is not like you can just hang tight and just hit a few shots coming in,” he said. “You need to still play proper golf and place the ball really well to avoid bogeys.”
It didn’t happen.
After three days of pace-setting golf, Oosthuizen did not have his fastball on Sunday. His three-day grip on the lead evaporated under the weight of three bogeys and a Collin Morikawa charge. As Morikawa went to the whip — making birdie on three holes in succession at one point — Oosthuizen didn’t have the legs to keep up.
He tried to “hang tight.” He managed a birdie at 11 to remain relevant, then birdied the par-5 14th to delay an outright dismissal. But during a hot afternoon on the southeastern coast of England, he didn’t have enough heat to turn the tables. In the end, a 1-over 71 left Oosthuizen at 11 under, four shots behind Morikawa, tied for third with U.S. Open champ Jon Rahm.
While both Morikawa and Rahm will head for Tokyo to play in the upcoming Olympics, Oosthuizen withdrew from consideration back in June. On his Twitter account, the 38-year-old South African explained he would focus on the remainder of his PGA Tour season and honor his family commitments. He recently purchased an 86-acre ranch in Ocala, Fla. and make no bones about his fondness for rural life.
As for the majors, he now owns a remarkable 11 top-10 finishes, all recorded since his win at St. Andrews in 2010. And while he didn’t finish second this time, Oosthuizen has finished T3 or better eight times.
Still, hope springs eternal. The major championship schedule is done for ’21, but the 150th playing of the British Open is at St. Andrews in 2022. Oosthuizen will be one of the favorites at “the home of golf.” In the last two British Opens there, he has a win and a tie for second (2015).
More Final-Round British Open Coverage From Morning Read:
- 18 Parting Shots from the 149th British Open
- Best Photos From Sunday at Royal St. George's
- Collin Morikawa Rallies to Win 149th British Open for 2nd Career Major Title
- Jordan Spieth Regrets Early Mental Lapses After Runner-Up Finish
- Oosthuizen Fails to Close Another Major, Slumps Into Tie for Third
- Brooks Koepka Laments What Might've Been After Strong Finish
- Shane Lowry's Two-Year Reign as Open Champ Ends Respectfully
- Bryson DeChambeau Caps Humbling Week With Final-Round 65
- Final Purse, Payouts, Prize Money Breakdown for 2021 British Open
- How Henry Cotton Captivated England at 1934 Open at Royal St. George's