Oosthuizen bounces back to wrap up Andalucian victory

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The Independent Online

Louis Oosthuizen finally made his European Tour breakthrough when he took the Andalucia Open title yesterday.

A week after finishing runner-up in the Hassan II Trophy, the South African made no mistake with a final-round three-under 67 for a 17-under 263 aggregate that left him three shots better than Peter Whiteford (66) and Richard Finch (67).

As well as his maiden title, which came after four second-place finishes, and the $225,000 prize money, the 27-year-old from the Western Cape earned himself a US Masters start by entering the world's top 50.

Oosthuizen's one-shot overnight advantage quickly tripled when he birdied the first with a 20-foot putt and his chief rival Robert Coles bogeyed. Three birdies in the first five holes gave Oosthuizen a cushion that left him virtually unassailable.

Whiteford did his best to catch up with a run of six birdies in 10 holes from the fifth, taking him to within two strokes of the lead. However, a bogey on at the 15th ended the Scot's hopes and he had to settle for his best Tour result.

Finch bounced back from a double-bogey just before the turn with two closing birdies that earned him the share of second place.

Oosthuizen had taken a two-shot lead into last week's closing round in Morocco but wilted to winner Rhys Davies's outstanding final 66.

After being drenched in champagne by his compatriot Thomas Aiken yesterday, Oosthuizen told reporters: "I was a little bit nervous coming down the stretch but my start had given me so much confidence."

After moving up from his world-ranking 60th place, Oosthuizen is ready to enjoy his second visit to Augusta at the start of next month. "I loved every minute of it [the Masters] last year and I'm just so excited about going back. Two months ago I made it my goal to win my place and now it's happened."

Coles (71) finished in a share of fourth place, five strokes adrift of Oosthuizen, with Italian Francesco Molinari (67).

Whiteford, who came into the tournament 291st in the world, had found a driver he really liked at the start of the week and said after his 66: "I thought I had it sussed.

"Then I discovered it missing before I went to practise and the one I had to use for the last two days was rubbish. I'll get a replacement now."