Oosthuizen runner-up to history-maker Mickelson in PGA Championship

May 24, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

When you can’t buy a putt, winning major championships becomes a difficult proposition. Louis Oosthuizen found that out on Sunday as he finished runner-up to a history-making Phil Mickelson in the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Oosthuizen garnered his fifth second-place finish in major championships as he carded a closing one-over-par 73 to end up two shots behind Mickelson, who became the oldest winner of a professional major championship. Sharing second with Oosthuizen was Brooks Koepka, who shot a two-over 74 to fall short in his quest for a third PGA Championship title.

As conditions became progressively tougher during the final day, it let the relatively early-starting Irish duo of Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry through to take up a share of fourth with their pair of 69s. They were two back from Oosthuizen and Koepka, together with Harry Higgs and Paul Casey.

“Look, I feel like I’m playing my heart out to get a second major, and I do know I have the game to do it,” said Oosthuizen. “This was close. My game wasn’t great on the weekend. It was better today than yesterday. So I just need to work harder on it to get myself in contention again.”

In the end, a double-bogey six on the 13th scuppered Oosthuizen’s chances as he hung on grimly, making just one birdie over the closing stretch which promised to play easier than on the first three days because it was now downwind. It never delivered on that promise.

“On 13 today, a five would have been fine there,” said Oosthuizen. “That was such a tough golf hole. Bogey would have been fine. Like I said, I feel sometimes in a round of golf, you need to take on that one shot, and if I pulled it off, I would have had probably a 10-, 15-footer for par. But I felt at that stage, I think I was four behind. I needed to do something.

“But coming in, I thought I hit it well, started hitting my driver really good and made good putts and a good chip on 17, and wasn’t meant to be.”

Behind Oosthuizen, the five remaining South Africans who made the cut endured differing degrees of difficulty in the final round. Christian Bezuidenhout finished in a share of 30th after a 77 in his final round, and Branden Grace had a 78 to finish in a share of 38th.

Daniel van Tonder carded a four-round total of four-over with his closing 73 for 44th, while Dean Burmester matched that final round to finish in a share of 59th. Garrick Higgo had a superb opening nine of five-under, but finished with a three-under 69 to close out his maiden major championship in 64th.

Oosthuizen was filled with praise for Mickelson. “It was like the Phil that I remember watching just when I turned pro and it was great to see,” he said. “I mean, what an achievement to win a major at 50 years old, and he deserves all of that today. It was not easy with the wind, and you know, he kept calm.”

Oosthuizen kept calm too. He just lost the sharpness his game showed in the first two rounds. “My rhythm was a lot better on Thursday and Friday,” he said. “Today and yesterday, I probably tried a little bit too much.”

That just shows how much he wants that second major.

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