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SA golf performances to remember in 2021

FILE - Louis Oosthuizen in action. Photo: Michael Sherman (ANA)

FILE - Louis Oosthuizen in action. Photo: Michael Sherman (ANA)

Published Dec 23, 2021

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Johannesburg — In a quite remarkable 2021 for South African golfers, it was Louis Oosthuizen who came agonisingly close to the nation’s first major golf championship triumph in nine years.

Oosthuizen began the year quietly with a tie for 26th at The Masters, but would go on to finish runner-up at both the PGA Championship and US Open before ending third at The Open in the final major of the year.

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To put those performances in perspective, only Spain’s Jon Rahm who won the US Open boasted a major record in 2021 comparable with that of Oosthuizen. Rahm finished fifth at the Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship and was tied third alongside Oosthuizen at The Open.

The next best was Open champion Collin Morikawa of America who managed fourth at the US Open and eighth at the PGA Championship and 18th at The Masters.

Oosthuizen finished two shots behind a the PGA Championship, one stroke behind at the US Open and four behind at The Open.

In fact, Oostuizen led for three rounds of this year’s Open at Royal St George’s and went into the final round with a one-stroke lead over Morikawa. In the end, Oosthuizen finished four behind Morikawa who played incredible golf to lift the Claret Jug in his debut in the event.

It was Oosthuizen’s second third place finish in a major, to go with his six runner-up results in the big four events since his victory in the 2010 Open Championship to announce his arrival on the world stage.

If the now 39-year-old Oosthuizen had a tad more luck, he could have easily been a four-time major champions but instead will rue the shots that cost him dearly.

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Still, to be in serious contention in the biggest tournaments in golf is an achievement in itself. And buoyed with a positive attitude, which Oosthuizen has, he will surely go on to win more majors before his time at the top is over.

The highlight of 2021 on the women’s calendar was Lee-Anne Pace’s historic fourth triumph in the SA Open. Pace won by one shot over Germany’s Leonie Harm in Cape Town in May.

“I’m so happy to win again. My last win on the LET [Ladies European Tour] was in 2014 and to get number 10 is just incredible,” said Pace, who was also the first Sunshine Ladies Tour golfer to win the flagship event three successive years in 2014, 2015 and 2017 (no event in 2016).

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The breakthrough victory of the year has to be Garrick Higgo’s win in the Palmetto Championship on the US PGA Tour in June. Playing in just his second-ever event on the PGA Tour, Higgo held his nerve to claim victory by one shot. The 22-year-old also cracked the top-50 in the world rankings following his triumph, rising 13 places to 39th. He would improve one spot to 38th for his career high, and he currently holds 58th spot in the world.

Already a three-time winner on the European Tour, now called the DP World Tour, a bright future is predicted for the young Higgo.

African News Agency (ANA)

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Golf

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