Oosthuizen wins Andalucia, trip to Masters

MALAGA, Spain – Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa earned his second straight trip to the Masters on Sunday by winning his first European Tour title with a 3-under 67 in the final round of the Andalucia Open.

Oosthuizen led overnight and finished at 17-under 263 to win by three strokes. The victory secures his place in the top 50 in the world rankings and a berth at Augusta next month.

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Louis Oosthuizen

Peter Whiteford of Scotland had a 66 and Richard Finch of England shot 67 to tie for second.

In eight seasons on the European Tour, the 27-year-old Oosthuizen had previously finished second on four occasions. The most recent was last weekend at the Hassan II Trophy, where he led going into the final round only to be outdone when Rhys Davies shot a 66.

Oosthuizen took control early Sunday, sinking 22-foot birdie putt on the first green.

“That was a good way to start,” said Oosthuizen , who opened up a four-shot lead with birdies at Nos. 4 and 5.

“But it was a stupid three-putt from close range on the seventh green that really got me focused,” he said. “I was looking at leaderboards all the way round and, going down the 18th with a three-shot lead, I felt comfortable.”

Oosthuizen credited fellow South African Ernie Els, whose foundation has helped Oosthuizen since he was a schoolboy.

“I would not be the golfer I am today without all the help I have received from Ernie,” he said.

Whiteford’s $120,000 runners-up check was more than he earned throughout 2008, when he last appeared as a full member of the European Tour and played 30 tournaments before losing his card.

Finch was the only player among the four leaders going into the final round to have previously won in Europe, at the Irish and New Zealand Opens in 2008.

Defending champion Soren Kjeldsen had five birdies in a 68 to finish in a tie for sixth place at 11 under.

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