A brief history of Louis Oosthuizen’s major-championship heartbreak

Louis Oosthuizen

After finishing runner-up six times, will Louis Oosthuizen claim his second major championship at Royal St. George's?

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When Louis Oosthuizen battled for his second career major championship on Sunday, he was in familiar territory. There are very few players who have been in the hunt for a major championship on Sunday afternoon as often as Oosthuizen over the past decade.

Though Oosthuizen has one major title under his belt — the 2010 Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews, which he won by a whopping seven strokes — he has been a runner-up an incredible seven times, and even third once, at the 2020 U.S. Open. Below is a brief overview of each time Oosthuizen has come up agonizingly short — including his most recent close call at the 2021 Open Championship.

The 2012 Masters

Oosthuizen’s final round at the 2012 Masters was highlighted by an amazing albatross on the second hole — only the fourth-ever albatross in Masters history — and he held the outright lead for most of the round, until he was caught by Bubba Watson in the closing stretch. The two entered a sudden-death playoff, tying the 18th hole with pars and heading to the 10th. Both hit poor drives, but it was Watson’s gap-wedge hook-shot recovery that became legendary. He eventually prevailed over Oosthuizen with a par.

The 2015 U.S. Open

Despite firing an opening-round 77 at Chambers Bay, Oosthuizen rallied with rounds of 66-66-67 — the best closing 54-hole stretch in U.S. Open history. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough, and he finished one shot short of Jordan Spieth’s five-under total.

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The 2015 Open Championship

In Oosthuizen’s very next major championship — this one at the site of his former glory, the Old Course at St. Andrews — Oosthuizen played in the final group on Sunday and drained a decisive birdie putt on the 18th hole to join Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman in a four-hole aggregate playoff. Though Oosthuizen matched Johnson’s birdie on the first hole, he missed a birdie putt on the final hole to extend the playoff into sudden death, falling to Johnson by one stroke.

The 2017 PGA Championship

Oosthuizen entered the final round of the 2017 PGA Championship two shots behind Kevin Kisner’s lead at Quail Hollow. Oosthuizen eagled the 15th hole from the fairway and birdied the 18th to finish in a tie for runner-up with Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari. Justin Thomas was the winner. The finish marked the career grand slam of runner-up finishes in the majors for Oosthuizen, an achievement he marked in hilarious fashion on his flight home:

The 2021 PGA Championship

Oosthuizen entered the final round at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course two shots behind Phil Mickelson’s lead, and unfortunately his final-round 73 did nothing to erase the deficit. He ended up tied for second alongside Brooks Koepka.

The 2021 U.S. Open

Oosthuzien hung around the top of the leaderboard for the entirety of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, sharing the lead after the third round with Mackenzie Hughes and Russell Henley. After carding back-to-back birdies at the turn, Oosthuizen lead the tournament by two shots with eight holes left to play. But errant shots at 11 and 17 led to costly bogeys, and a late surge by Jon Rahm meant Oosthuizen ended up one shot short to mark his sixth runner-up finish at a major.

The 2021 Open Championship

The 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s marked the third straight major in which Louis Oosthuizen found himself in the mix for the title. Oosthuizen held the outright lead over Collin Morikawa by one shot heading into the final round, but Oosthuzien made two bogeys on the front nine while Morikawa took control with three birdies. Oosthuizen ultimately finished four shots behind Morikawa, in a tie for third.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.

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