Late charge sees Harrington finish tied fifth in Durban
Louis Oosthuizen wins Volve Masters by one ahead of compatriot Branden Grace
Pádraig Harrington finished in share of fifth in Durban. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images
Pádraig Harrington shot a final round of 67 to secure a top five finish at the Volvo Masters in Durban, the Dubliner finishing three shots adrift of winner Louis Oosthuizen.
Only Harrington and South African Thomas Aiken managed to go as low as 67 on the final day but it was too little too late thanks to the 68s shot by Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, who finished second on 11 under.
Joost Luiten (71) and Tommy Fleetwood (72) both finished on 10 under, one ahead of the Irishman and the French pair of Raphael Jacquelin and Victor Dubuisson.
“It was nice to feel I had a chance coming down the stretch. “I’m happy with how I am hitting the ball but distraught with the way I’m putting.”
Darren Clarke, whose weekend began so positively with a 69, dropped to one over thanks to a 77, while Michael Hoey (74) and Simon Thornton (71) ended on four over and five over, respectively.
Oosthuizen was one shot behind Grace with two holes to play, but birdied them both to card a closing 68 and 12-under-par total. Grace had watched on television as former Open champion Oosthuizen holed from two feet on the 17th and then chipped to the same distance for another birdie on the short par-four 18th.
That meant all seven European Tour events staged at Durban Country Club have now been won by South Africans, while eight of the last 11 tournaments in South Africa have been won by home players.
Fleetwood had held a one-shot advantage heading into the final round and briefly stretched that to three thanks to a birdie at the second and mistakes from his rivals. However, three bogeys in five holes from the fifth threw the tournament wide open and Grace was the first to take advantage with a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth.
Oosthuizen then vaulted into contention with an eagle from 12ft on the par-five eighth and the South African duo swapped the lead on the back nine before Grace - winner of the title in 2012 — looked to have made the decisive move with birdies on the 16th and 18th.
Oosthuizen had fallen victim to the 16th for the second day running, following his triple-bogey seven on Saturday with a bogey five to fall one behind, but a brilliant approach to the 17th got him back on level terms and set up a simple winning birdie on the driveable 18th.
“After my tee shot on 16 I was lucky that I could chip it out and nearly made a great par,” Oosthuizen said. “But when I stood over the ball on 17 I saw that Branden had made birdie on 18 so I knew that second shot was crucial to give myself a good opportunity and I hit it really close.
“And then 18, everyone thinks you just need to make a birdie but around that green it’s not easy and luckily I was far enough past where I could pitch it back into the grain and get it close.
“It was nerve-wracking through the round but I finished strong and I’m just happy that I got it done. It’s an awesome start for the year. Confidence-wise it’s great. I haven’t really played well last year with all the injuries so hopefully I can build from here on and just go better next time.”