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Louis Oosthuizen seals win and Masters spot

South African Louis Oosthuizen finally made his European Tour breakthrough when he took the Andalucia Open title on Sunday.

A week after finishing runner-up in the Hassan II Trophy, Oosthuizen made no mistake with a final-round three-under 67 for a 17-under 263 aggregate that left him three shots better than Britons Peter Whiteford (66) and Richard Finch (67).

As well as his maiden title, which came after four second-place finishes, and the $225,000 prize money, the 27-year-old from the Western Cape earned himself a U.S. Masters start by entering the world’s top 50.

Oosthuizen’s one-shot overnight advantage quickly tripled when he birdied the first with a 20-foot putt and his chief rival Robert Coles of Britain bogeyed.

Three birdies in the first five holes gave Oosthuizen a cushion that left him virtually unassailable.

Whiteford did his best to catch up with a run of six birdies in 10 holes from the fifth, taking him to within two strokes of the lead. However, a bogey on 15 ended the Scot’s hopes and he had to settle for his best tour result.

Finch bounced back from a double-bogey just before the turn with two closing birdies that earned him the share of second place.

Oosthuizen had taken a two-shot lead into last week’s closing round in Morocco but wilted to winner Briton Rhys Davies’s outstanding final 66.

After being drenched in champagne by his compatriot Thomas Aiken on Sunday, Oosthuizen told reporters: “I was a little bit nervous coming down the stretch but my start had given me so much confidence.”

He praised his compatriot and world number nine Ernie Els for being part of his overdue success.

“I was in the Ernie Els Foundation since just after leaving school and I would definitely not be here if it were not for him.”

After moving up from his world-ranking 60th place, Oosthuizen is ready to enjoy his second visit to Augusta.

“I loved every minute of it (the U.S. Masters) last year and I’m just so excited about going back. Two months ago I made it my goal to win my place and now it’s happened.”

Coles (71) finished in a share of fourth place, five strokes adrift of Oosthuizen, with Italian Francesco Molinari (67).

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