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Oosthuizen crowned British Open champ

SMACKING SUCCESS: Louis Oosthuizen kisses the famous Claret Jug after winning the British Open golf championship with ease on Sunday.

ST. ANDREWS: Rank outsider Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open on Sunday, capturing golf's biggest prize by a stunning seven strokes with an accomplished display of front-running.

It was the biggest winning margin in the world's oldest and most prestigious tournament since Tiger Woods won here by eight strokes in 2000.

Long shot

The 27-year-old South African, a 200-1 betting shot on Wednesday, started the day on 15-under par, four strokes ahead of England's Paul Casey and with the rest of the field already left trailing in his wake.

Plotting his way around the Old Course links, Oosthuizen was never really threatened as he carded a closing 71 for a 17-under total of 272.

The runner-up spot, a distant seven strokes back, went to England's Lee Westwood who closed with a 70 with three players in a tie for third a stroke further back - Rory McIlroy (68), Henrik Stenson (67) and Casey (75).

“It's unbelievable,” said Oosthuizen. “It was difficult having such a big lead to keep calm and focussed, but I kept calm all the way. It's just amazing.

“I felt like I played really well all week.

It was just the second top-level tournament win of Oosthuizen's career after the lowly Andalucia Open in March and it came on a day of celebration back home for Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday.

Ranked 54th in the world coming into St Andrews, Oosthuizen was the fourth South African to win the Open after Bobby Locke (1949, 1950, 1952, 1957), Gary Player (1954, 1968, 1974) and Ernie Els (2002).

Biggest upset

It was the biggest upset win in an Open at the Home of Golf since American Tony Lema won on his debut at the Old Course in 1964.

Oosthuizen carded superb rounds of 65, 67 and 69 to set up his winning position and only Casey with rounds of 69, 69 and 67 managed to hang onto his coattails.

Martin Kaymer of Germany, who had been in third place overnight at eight over, bogeyed the first, while Stenson of Sweden, Westwood and Alejandro Canizares of Spain all parred the first four holes when it was birdies they needed to stand any chance of reeling in the leader.

Casey did cut the lead to three when he birdied the sixth and Oosthuizen had his first of two bogeys on the day after over-hitting his tee-shot at the par-three eighth.

But on the next hole, Oosthuizen drove the short, par-four green and sunk a 30-footer for a crucial eagle, while Casey had to settle for a birdie. The lead was back to where it started at four over.

When Casey clattered his drive into thick gorse on the tricky par-four 12th minutes later and limped off with a triple bogey seven to Oosthuizen's birdie three, it was all over.

World No.1 Woods, whose hopes of an unprecedented hat-trick of Open wins at St. Andrews evaporated with a disappointing 73 on Saturday leaving him 12 shots off the lead, had two double-bogey fours on the front nine.

He battled back to finish with a par 72, but at three under for the tournament he was way back in a tie for 23rd place, his dreams of a 15th major well and truly shattered.

“I drove it great all week, hit my irons pretty good, and I did not putt well except for the first day,” he said.

“I believe I had like nine three putts for the week, so consequently I'm pretty far down the board.

Ulster young gun McIlroy, who opened with starkly contrasting rounds of 63 and 80, finished strongly with a 68 which left him tied for third.

The results (top ten): 272: Louis Ooosthuizen (65, 67, 69, 71); 279: Lee Westwood (67, 71, 71, 70) 280: Rory McIlroy (63, 80, 69, 68), Henrik Stenson (68, 74, 67, 71), Paul Casey (69, 69, 67, 75); 281: Retief Goosen (69, 70, 72, 70); 282: Robert Rock (68, 78, 67, 69), Sean O'Hair (67, 72, 72, 71), Nick Watney (67, 73, 71, 71), Martin Kaymer (69, 71, 68, 74) . — AFP

Corrections and Clarifications

(Sport page corrections: In the column Oosthuizen poised for British Open glory (July 19, first edition), the 8th para should have said Kaymer was 3rd with 8 over. It should have been 8 under)

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