Can Louis go wire-to-wire for the Claret Jug?

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Three rounds complete - one to go
Posted on
July 18, 2021
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Can Louis go wire-to-wire for the Claret Jug?
Louis Oosthuizen plays his second shot on the 8th hole during Day Three. (David Cannon/R&A via Getty Images)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


Winning a major championship is no small feat simply because only four are played in a calendar year. The quartet includes the Masters, the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. Having one's name associated for eternity as a winner of any of the four can indelibly seal's one legacy within the sport.

Louis Oosthuizen can join rare company should he finish on top in Sunday's final round for the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George's.

Going four consecutive rounds in a major and maintaining a solo lead after each day is no small feat. The South African has played brilliantly through the first 54 holes of play. His performance set a new 36-hole record at The Open Championship with a 129 total over the first two rounds.

Oosthuizen added a 69 during Saturday's play and starts the final round with a one-stroke lead over his nearest pursuer -- Colin Morikawa. The two will be paired together for the second consecutive day during the final 18 holes. Others are nearby but the real action will likely come from what the final twosome does.

Can Louis go wire-to-wire for the Claret Jug?
Collin Morikawa on the 13th. (Charlie Crowhurst/R&A via Getty Images)

The pressure associated with any major championship can be suffocating -- even for the most experienced. Players have gone through an arduous journey through three rounds and know full well the final 18 holes can take any number of twists and turns.

Oosthuizen has experienced no fewer than six different times what it is to finish as a runner-up in such grand slam events. He finished tied for second at this year's PGA Championship behind winner Phil Mickelson and at the U.S. Open falling just one stroke short to champion Jon Rahm. It's also important to point out that Oosthuizen is one of seven golfers to have finished as a runner-up in all four golf majors.

The self-effacing 38-year-old has kept himself in the moment. Not looking back at past failures but also not presuming anything with one round to go.

The last golfer to win The Open Championship without ties for 72 holes was Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool in 2014. The Ulsterman played superbly for the duration with a seventeen-under-par total. McIlroy also went wire-to-wire with no ties at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional where he completely dominated winning by eight shots.


All told, seven golfers have secured the famed Claret Jug with the outright lead after each round. Besides McIlroy, the list includes a who's who among golf royalty with Bobby Jones doing so in 1927, followed by Gene Sarazen in 1932, Henry Cotton 1934, Tom Weiskopf in 1973 and Tiger Woods in 2005.

The golfer with the most wire-to-wire victories is Tiger Woods with four -- three of them being with no-ties after any round.



Interestingly, one of the pursuers chasing Oosthuizen Sunday is Jordan Spieth. The American won the 2015 Masters in a virtuoso performance -- never trailing at the end of each day's play. Remarkably, when defending his green jacket in 2016 he had an opportunity to not only defend his title -- but carry out a monumental streak of eight consecutive rounds in the lead with no ties something which had never been done in golf history. The Texan led after three rounds and was poised for another triumph when disaster struck at the treacherous par-3 12th hole when he dunked two shots into Rae's Creek and eventually lost to fast closing Englishman Danny Willett.

Oosthuizen can clearly elevate his overall stature with a win at Royal St. George's. His demeanor has been even keel but final rounds at major championships are among the most stressful. 

Can Louis go wire-to-wire for the Claret Jug?
Jordan Spieth celebrates making a birdie on the 2nd hole during Day Three. (Charlie Crowhurst/R&A via Getty Images)

2021 started with the South African ranked 22nd in the world -- he's now 13th. A second Open win -- his first coming in 2010 at St. Andrews -- would cement his reputation as one of the game's premier players. 

The expectations are clearly high for Oosthuizen and should he be unable to depart Sandwich with the Claret Jug in hand there will be those who will chime in that he lacks the closing push shown by the best of the best.

Louis wants to end the 2021 major championship schedule in grand fashion. 18 holes remain for that goal to happen and for him to be proclaimed, "Champion Golfer of the Year."

One can be likely assured Oosthuizen is hardly thinking that far ahead.

The stakes are clearly that high.

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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