With Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy holding six and three shot leads respectively over the rest of the field entering Monday’s final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship it was expected to be a two-man race to the finish.
That’s exactly what happened, as fans were treated to a suspenseful back nine in which McIlroy held off Oosthuizen to win the 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship by one stroke at 20-under par.
“I am delighted to get my fifth win on the PGA Tour, third win this year, and second win in the last three events,” McIlroy said. “Today was great.”
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The two players stood at the 530-yard par-5 18th tee with McIlroy holding a one-shot lead. When they reached the green each player had birdie putts of similar lengths of about 20-feet. When McIlroy’s putt sat right on the edge of the cup and did not fall, Oosthuizen was left with a putt to force a sudden death playoff, but it was not meant to be as the putt slid just to the right of the cup giving McIlroy the win.
“You could hear all the commentators in the crowd saying what the putt is doing, so after putting that aside and just reading the putt properly, standing over it, you know, I wanted to hit it more than I read, but even if I putted it where I read it, it doesn’t do that much, which is amazing,” Oosthuizen said. “If I go and hit that putt again, I’d probably miss it on the same exact side.”
McIlroy was mentally preparing for a playoff assuming Oosthuizen would make the putt.
“I thought for sure he was going to make that putt and we were going to go play the 18th again,” he said.
There were a few shots Oosthuizen would like to have back on the back nine, especially on No. 17 where McIlroy bogeyed, and he too bogeyed despite his second shot coming just 140 yards away from the middle of the fairway.
“You know the second shot on 17 I think I would have,” when asked which shot he’d take back the most. “I think Rory’s [par] putt would have had way more pressure on it if I would have had four or maybe a three. I needed to give myself a birdie putt on 17.”
Entering the day leading McIlroy by three strokes, Oosthuizen stumbled coming out of the gates shooting a one-over 36 on the front nine, which included a double-bogey on the par-4 fifth. McIlroy on the other hand came out on fire birding five of the first nine holes, and despite a dropped shot on the fifth, his 4-under 31 gave him a two-stroke lead entering the back nine.
“I just wanted to get off to a good solid start and maybe put Louis under a bit of pressure,” McIlroy said. “I was able to do that playing the first four holes in 3-under.”
McIlroy, the world’s No.1 player, now moves to first place in the FedEx Cup standings with only two events left in the four-tournament series.
“I am delighted to go to No.1 in the FedEx Cup and it sets me up for a great next couple of weeks. So overall I am very pleased,” he said.
For the 23-year-old McIlroy, it was a relaxed week as his tennis-star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in town with him, which seemed to benefit the world No. 1.
“The other two PGA Tour events Caroline has been to this year, I’ve won both of them, so I need to get her to more,” McIlroy said with a smile. “It’s great to feel like you’re in a relaxed environment, especially off the golf course. To have someone with you that you can completely just clear your mind off of what’s going on here, just completely focus on something else, it’s a nice thing to have, a nice distraction.”
The next closest player to the two was Tiger Woods, who shot a final round 5-under 66 to finish tied for third, but he never was within two strokes of the lead.
“I certainly had my looks,” Woods said. “I drove it really well on the back nine and just didn’t hit it close enough at all. The only one I stuffed there was 17, and I missed that one. The goal was to at least get to 20-under playing the last hole and give myself an option to go to 21 or 22. I thought that might be good enough to get into a playoff.”
Woods wasn’t the only star in the top ten as it shaped up to be a very star-studded group at the top. Phil Mickelson finished tied for fourth along with Dustin Johnson, followed by Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott at sixth and T-7 respectively.
Keegan Bradley, who resides in Woodstock, VT and played his high school golf at Hopkinton, Mass. followed his third round 63 up with a final round 69 to finish the tournament at 8-under and T-13.