Well, the good news for Louis Oosthuizen is that he didn’t finish second again in a major championship.
The bad news is that he didn’t finish first despite holding lead after the first three rounds in the British Open at Royal St. George’s.
The 38-year-old South African finished tied for third, behind winner Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth. That’s what a 1-over-par 71 in the final round will do.
Oosthuizen, who’s finished runner-up in major championships six times, including the PGA Championship and U.S. Open this year, was so gutted by his performance after the round Sunday he declined to speak to reporters afterward, a rarity for him.
He did, about an hour after the tournament ended, post a congratulatory tweet to Morikawa, with whom he was paired Sunday, in a message that also included a playful dig at himself: “Well, I do know one thing, the fans at @TheOpen are second (or third) to none. Thank you for the incredible support this week, and congrats to @Collin_Morikawa who played with class and grit today. Well done mate.”
Sunday was the 11th anniversary of Oosthuizen’s one career victory in a major, the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews. The last player to win the Open multiple times on the same calendar day was Tiger Woods (in 2000 and 2006) on July 23.
Oosthuizen is now 0-for-42 in majors since his Open win. He’s had an agonizing eight top-3 finishes in that span.
Oosthuizen was the first player to lead in the first three rounds of an Open and not win the tournament since Sergio Garcia in 2007 at Carnoustie.
His chances to lift the Claret Jug for a second time were doomed at the seventh hole, a par-5 on which he took a sloppy bogey while tied with Morikawa at 11-under par.
Oosthuizen hit his approach shot into a left greenside bunker and skulled his sand shot across the green into a bunker on the other side of the green with a bad lie. He actually did well to save bogey given the lie.
Morikawa made birdie on the hole and surged to a two-shot lead, which he would extend to three shots with a birdie on the eighth hole. Oosthuizen’s one-shot lead to start the day not only melted away quickly with two bogeys and no birdies on the front nine, but he fell as many as four shots behind Morikawa and could never recover.
“The seventh hole was definitely the turning point,” Morikawa said. “[Oosthuizen] just had an unlucky break on seven. We were in the middle of the fairway and he makes bogey. These are the first few times I played with Louis, and Louis is an outright amazing player and person. It’s nice to see another guy just stripe it down the middle. I mean, when I watch him play and hit his drives, I’m like, ‘Wow, I want to hit it like that.’
“Louis is consistent, he really is. He’s going to keep knocking at these doors [at majors], and I’m sure he’s going to knock a few more down. He’s just too good.”