ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — It's easily the greatest walk in golf. Or maybe any sport.
Especially when you know you can make a 10 and still win. Even with tears in your eyes.
Sunday, on the Old Course, those final 100 or so yards up the 18th fairway belonged to South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Everyone on the BBC telecast seemed to pronounce his name a little differently. Go with WHUST-high-zen. It's close enough. As long as the engraver can spell it correctly on the claret jug.
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After two-putting for one-under 71 to make the seven-stroke victory official, Oosthuizen was greeted on the green by his wife Nel-Mare and their seven-month-old daughter Jana. More wet eyes.
"Without you, it wouldn't be worth it," he told them and the whole world later at his acceptance speech.
Back home, after a month of hosting the World Cup, Nelson Mandela was turning 92 years old. Wonder if those vuvuzela's are used for anything besides soccer?
"I woke up this morning and didn't know it was his birthday until I heard it on the news, on the Internet," Oosthuizen said. "That's amazing. It felt a bit special. Walking down 18, I was thinking about that. What he's done for our country is unbelievable."
South Africans Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have won 18 majors between them, including eight Open Championships. Locke was victorious here in 1957. Now Oosthuizen is part of that. Player reached out to him before the final round.
"He phoned me this morning," said Oosthuizen, who closed with a 272 total, two better than Tiger Woods did at St. Andrews in 2005 and seven better than England's Lee Westwood could do this week en route to his second runner-up in a major this year. "We had a little chat. He spoke in my home language, Afrikaans. He first spoke to my wife. Then he was saying just to stay calm, have a lot of fun.
"And he said the crowd was probably going to be on (playing partner Paul Casey's side). Then he told me the story when he played against Arnold Palmer when he won his first Masters (in 1961). He said, 'They wanted to throw stuff at me.' But he was so focused on beating him in Augusta. That meant a lot."
On the 150th anniversary of the first Open, Oosthuizen also joins the list of other giants who've made that same walk on this sacred turf: Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Woods.
"To win the Open is special," Oosthuizen said. "To win here is something you dream about."
He's the first to get his first major at St. Andrews since Tony Lema 46 years ago.
The reality is, it was pretty much his tournament from the time he assumed a five-shot edge after Friday's 67, when he got the better of the starting times/wind conditions and didn't waste it. He followed with a 69 that still left him four in front of Casey, who, like Westwood, was trying to become the first man from his nation to win a major since Faldo in 1996 (Masters). Or win this one since Faldo in 1992.
Casey started with a bogey on two but birdied the sixth. Oosthuizen, after seven consecutive pars, dropped one at the 8th and the lead was three. Both players drove the ensuing par four. But Oosthuizen made his eagle, while Casey two-putted. Things basically ended at 12, when Casey drove into gorse and took a triple-bogey while Oosthuizen was making bird.
The rest was mostly for second. At least for those watching on the telly.
"That's one thing I learned in this game," said Oosthuizen, who was ranked 54th on the planet, four months after getting his first European Tour victory. "You're certain when the last putt goes in."
Rory McIlroy, who became the 22nd man to shoot 63 in any major on Thursday before imploding to an 80 on Friday, closed with a 68 to get a share of third with Casey (75) and Henrik Stenson (71) at 280. The 21-year-old from Northern Ireland has now played 12 rounds at St. Andrews. He's broken 70 in all but one. Go figure.
"Even if you took away the couple of sevens I had this week, I don't think it was good enough to get near Louis," Casey said. "That was an unbelievable performance. I'm disappointed, but the emphasis has to be on that."