Volvo Golf Champions 2014: Daily Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More
The 2014 Volvo Golf Championship finished up at the Durban Country Club in South Africa on Sunday, Jan. 12, with native countryman Louis Oosthuizen capturing the trophy.
This year's tournament took place between Jan. 9-12 and saw a limited field compete with no cut at the halfway mark, only open to individuals who had won a European Tour event across the previous year.
As noted on the tournament's official website, those who had won 10 or more European Tour competitions across their entire career were able to bypass this rule.
With this in mind, a plethora of well-known names made up a field that is set to be competitive until the last ball. The likes of Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Miguel Angel Jimenez were among the seasoned, decorated veterans competing for the $4 million prize.
Read on to find out how the final round concluded, along with a recap of each day of the action with leaderboards, analysis and more.
Day 4: Oosthuizen Outduels Compatriot Grace to Claim Victory
Louis Oosthuizen was able to successfully defend his title on Sunday, Jan. 12, against an elite field, birdieing the final two holes for a round of four-under 68, a total of 12-under 276 and a one stroke win over Branden Grace.
With one of the best swings in the game, it's surprising Oosthuizen hasn't found the winner's circle more often. However, he's begun the new year with a bang and weathered some adversity along the way to get it done down the stretch.
Oosthuizen eagled the par-five eighth hole and made eight pars to go out in two under. Then a dropped shot at the par-four 16th—where he carded a triple bogey the previous day—threatened to detail his chances at the trophy.
Even with Grace applying pressure in the group ahead by birdieing No. 18 to get to -11, though, the more experienced Oosthuizen held his ground in the penultimate pairing and birdied in to secure the win.
That marked Oosthuizen's first victory since this tournament last season, as he's battled through injury issues for much of the past year. Hopefully he's fit enough to continue building off this momentum and be a factor in the forthcoming major championships.
The last two on the course on Sunday were a pair of prodigies in 54-hole leader Tommy Fleetwood and promising 23-year-old Victor Dubuisson. Both have won on the European Tour once before, and the Englishman Fleetwood held the 54-hole lead.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be for Fleetwood, 22, but he did birdie the final hole to salvage a level par round of 72.
Dubuisson matched that score but took a frustrating 32 putts on what would a solid ball-striking day. It's something both he and Fleetwood should learn from when they're put in position to contend again.
Underrated South African Joost Luiten had a nice showing of his own on home soil and battled back for a round of 71 and a joint third-place finish after starting the day off with two straight bogeys.
It was a welcome return to form for three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, too. The Irishman has been struggling with swing changes for a number of years, with scarce, occasionally positive results to show for them.
Perhaps 2014 is a change in that regard, because Harrington pieced together a brilliant 67 to close out the tournament and putted well on the weekend.
*For complete scores and stats, visit EuropeanTour.com.
Day 3: Fleetwood, Dubuisson and Luiten Emerge as Contenders
Victor Dubuisson continued his remarkably consistent run of form with another 69, taking him to nine under for the tournament and one shot adrift of leader Tommy Fleetwood.
He shares his second place with Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, whose game fell slightly after his excellent 67 yesterday.
The Frenchman had shown glimpses of this solid play towards the end of 2013, but his game has really come into focus over the last three days. Three rounds of 69 makes for impressive viewing, but this third one came in a different manner to previous days.
In the first two rounds, Dubuisson got off to a solid start before treading water with an indifferent back nine. Today, however, he got the problems out of the way early and didn't drop a shot over the back nine, instead hitting three birdies to rise to the summit of the leaderboard.
Fleetwood hit his own 69, finishing on 10 under as we go into the final day's play with everything to play for. The Englishman was decisive with his shots, never doing more than the situation required. It wasn't a flashy round, but his four birdies and one bogey were enough to give him the overnight lead.
Round of the day went to England's Paul Casey after he hit a seven-under 65 to vault up to 10th. Casey carded a 72 and a 75 on his first two rounds, so this will definitely spur him on for Day 4.
Day 2 Recap: Oosthuizen, Fleetwood and Luiten Share Lead
Louis Oosthuizen, Tommy Fleetwood and Joost Luiten climbed to the top of the Volvo Golf Champions leaderboard on day two of the tournament in Durban, finishing on seven-under.
Dutchman Luiten and Englishman Fleetwood had been trailing in fifth place after the first day of proceedings but recovered well with rounds of 67.
Meanwhile, Louis Oosthuizen, one shot off top spot on the first day, continued his consistent display on home soil with an impressive round of 69.
The former Open Championship winner produced a mixture of pars, alongside birdies at three and six and back-to-back birdies on the way in to confirm his credentials as a serious challenger.
It was Luiten, though, who produced the shot of the day when he holed his second shot to the 560-yard par five for albatross.
Other than that he was unable to match Oosthuizen's overall consistency in a round which featured four birdies and two bogeys.
Fleetwood made a solid start to the day with a birdie, a bogey and three pars before picking up the pace to make birdies on six, eight and nine.
Then, on the way in, he made further birdies on 14 and 15 to leave him in a good position ahead of the weekend.
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who ended day two a stroke behind the front three after a second round of 69, endured a mixed afternoon and wasted an eagle at three with a double-bogey at eight. He did, however, salvage something with back-to-back birdies either side of a bogey on the way in.
Below that, Matteo Manassero was in fifth with Darren Clarke and, the leader from day one, Raphael Jacquelin back in sixth on four-under and still in contention.
Scores via the European Tour's official website.
Day 1 Recap: Jacquelin Fends off Oosthuizen for One-Shot Lead
Raphael Jacquelin took an early one-shot lead in this year's tournament after a strong showing across the opening day.
The Frenchman hit five birdies to see off the late challenge of Louis Oosthuizen, who is looking to retain his title with a positive display in front of local support.
Oosthuizen—whose bad back has prevented him scheduling appearances beyond April, per Fox Sports—couldn't quite meet Jacquelin at the top. He only managed to par his final hole of the day, finishing on minus-4.
One of the home favourite's best strokes came on the 11th, when he played an excellent approach shot, made all the more sweeter after he failed to birdie the 10th.
As hinted by the European Tour's official Twitter account, Oosthuizen has a great opportunity to challenge for the prize:
Darren Clarke faltered with just two bogeys to put himself in tied third with Victor Dubuisson on three-under, with the latter sinking an eagle on the 14th to put himself in contention.
Clarke missed a birdie from 25 feet on the first, but he managed an exquisite chip from 20 yards after his tee shot came up short on the second.
A windswept course continues to challenge each of the players, and Clarke saw his ball heavily influenced by the breeze when he tried another chip on the fifth, dropping his first shot of the tournament.
Elsewhere, Colin Montgomerie played his way into contention with a round of 70 to enter Day 2 three shots off the pace.
Place Name Round Thru Score 1. Raphael Jacquelin -5 18 -5 2. Louis Oosthuizen -4 18 -4 T3. Darren Clarke -3 18 -3 T3. Victor Dubuisson -3 18 -3 T5. Simon Thornton -2 18 -2 T5. Tommy Fleetwood -2 18 -2 T5. Colin Montgomerie -2 18 -2 T5. Marcel Siem -2 18 -2 T5. Chris Wood -2 18 -2 T5. Peter Uihlein -2 18 -2 T5. Joost Luiten -2 18 -2
Scores via the European Tour's official website.