Oosthuizen Successfully Defends in Africa Open

Louis Oosthuizen closed with a 6-under 67 to retain his title in the Africa Open. The season opener on the European Tour took place at East London Golf Club.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, opened with four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys on the front nine for a 4-under 33, then came home considerably steadier with two birdies and the rest pars for a 34.

He finished at 27-under 265, two strokes ahead of fellow South African Tjaart van der Walt, who had a 69, and three in front of two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who also had a 69.

The outcome was in doubt until Oosthuizen birdied the par-3 17th. While Van der Walt bogeyed the 164-yard hole, Oosthuizen sank a 35-foot birdie putt for a two-shot swing. "The 17th was playing really tough today with the wind blowing off the right," Oosthuizen told reporters.

"When Tjaart hit it short I aimed for the middle of the green. I had been leaving my putts short all day but I hit it firmly and it rolled really nicely."

By finishing second, the 37-year-old van der Walt is still seeking his first professional victory after 10 second-place finishes. He's gone winless on each of the PGA, European and PGA tours. Despite the journeyman coming up short again, Oosthuizen was impressed with his opponent's effort. "It was great to see Tjaart play to his potential," he said.

"Tjaart did not go away despite my efforts to move clear. He matched me shot for shot, birdie for birdie, par for par, and can be really proud of his performance. He is one of those players that won't go away. He is too consistent for that."

South Africa's Jaco van Zyl (66) took solo fourth at 23-under 269, and Scotland's Alastair Forsyth (67) was fifth another stroke back. Playing in his first tournament in nearly a year due to back problems, South African Richard Sterne closed with a 3-under 70 for a 20-under 272 total and sixth place.

The European Tour stays in South Africa for next week's tournament, the Joburg Open in Johannesburg, with the leg ending January 19-22 for the Volvo Golf Champions at The Links at Fancourt.

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012001/leaderboard/index.html.