THEY say that nothing comes out of finishing second but not on this occasion, according to Louis Oosthuizen. In fact, the South African reckons plenty players, not just winner Zach Johnson, will be relishing future major challenges on the back of a thrilling last-day shoot-out at St Andrews, writes Martin Dempster.
“To me, this was probably one of the most exciting Opens,” said Oosthuizen, having just fallen short in his bid to repeat a 2010 victory and match Tiger Woods’ feat of recording successive wins in the event on the Old Course.
It’s never nice to lose a play-off… but I’ll take a lot out of this weekLouis Oosthuizen
“When I got to the fifth hole, it was a great leaderboard and I said to my caddie, ‘this is going to be a great finish because of all the names that are up there’.” He was referring to Johnson, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Marc Leishman – all of whom could have gone on to lift the Claret Jug.
“It was great seeing everyone up there and hopefully it will be that way in the future,” added Oosthuizen. “A lot of guys will take a lot of good out of this and it will be great for golf if this is going to be the way forward.”
Given his record on it, the Mossel Bay man probably wishes every Open was held on the Old Course. “I can’t wait for it to come back,” he admitted. But, having finally got over some niggling injuries, Oosthuizen surely won’t have to wait until 2021 to be challenging for another major. “It’s never nice to lose a play-off, having had that experience in the 2012 Masters at Augusta, but I’ll take a lot out of this week,” he said. “I was really motivated to win this championship and there’s not much more that I could have done. I was just outplayed in the play-off. Zach left the door open on 17 (when the American took 5 after pulling his second shot then putting the next one over the side of the green), but I didn’t take advantage of that.”
As for fellow joint runner-up Leishman, he may have been “pretty disappointed” in the immediate aftermath of his play-off loss but perspective didn’t take long to kick in. “I’ve just finished second in The Open and I can go home tomorrow and hug Audrey and the boys and celebrate a bit, I guess,” said the likeable Australian, having almost lost his wife to illness earlier this year, when she was diagnosed with myopathy, a disease which causes the muscles to stop functioning. “It would have been nice to have a Claret Jug to drink out of to do that, but I’ll find something else.”
With his wife’s life in danger, Leishman questioned whether he even wanted to continue playing golf, but he said those dramas were not on his mind when he was trying to become the first Australian since Greg Norman in 1993 to win golf’s oldest major. “The golf course doesn’t discriminate on what’s happened or who you are,” he said. “I didn’t think about it really, at all. I texted her between the finish in play and the play-off, but apart from that just trying to make birdies and see how we ended up. It was probably when I walked off the 17th green that I knew it wasn’t going to happen the way I wanted it to happen.”