Oosthuizen, Stan­ley storm ahead on crusty sur­face and windy con­di­tions

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PONTE VEDRA BEACH most that I could have out of that round,” Stan­ley said. “A cou­ple bo­geys, but you can ex­pect that to hap­pen around here with as dif­fi­cult as the golf course is.”

John­son and McIl­roy at least are still in the game.

Jor­dan Spi­eth was headed home af­ter miss­ing the cut for the third straight year, yet he didn’t sound ter­ri­bly up­set. He chalked that up to not be­ing able to han­dle this strand of grass when it gets firm and crusty. Spi­eth’s last hope ended with a tee shot that bounced at the back of the is­land-green 17th and into the wa­ter.

Equally sur­pris­ing was Vi­jay Singh, the 54-year-old Fi­jian who was mak­ing putts from ev­ery­where un­til a three-putt bo­gey on the 18th. He still shot 68 and goes into the weekend only three shots out of the lead.

“We’re in a pretty good spot go­ing into this weekend,” said Oosthuizen, the 2010 Bri­tish Open cham­pion who still hasn’t won in Amer­ica. “A lot of golf to be played around this golf course, and as we’ve seen the last two days, you can eas­ily make a mis­take around this track.”

Phil Mick­el­son started mak­ing putts and moved up the leader­board, only to be­gin a slow slide. He made three bo­geys on the back nine and then, torn be­tween a 9-iron and a wedge on the 17th, he opted for a wedge to make sure it didn’t go over the back of the is­land.

It still hopped hard at the back of the green and went into the wa­ter, lead­ing to a dou­ble bo­gey. That left him at 72, seven shots be­hind.

“It’s a hard course, and any er­rant swings will lead to not a good score,” Mick­el­son said. “But I played a good front nine and shot even. I don’t know what else to say.”

De­fend­ing cham­pion Ja­son Day didn’t make up any ground, ei­ther, trad­ing birdies and bo­geys for a 72. He also was seven back at 2-un­der 142. Rickie Fowler shot 74 and joined John­son and McIl­roy at 144.

Ian Poul­ter, who only got into The Play­ers on a cler­i­cal mis­take re­gard­ing his time away for in­jury, shot 67 and was in the large group at 5-un­der 139.

Oosthuizen picked up birdies on both par 3s on the back nine, and then hit his best shot on the first hole from deep in the woods on pine straw.

He man­aged to play a low punch shot with a draw, and it ran up to about 5 feet for a birdie. He let his put­ter do the work the rest of the way, hol­ing 20-foot birdie putts on the fifth and ninth holes to share the lead. AP


Louis Oosthuizen re­acts to a missed putt for birdie in Ponte Vedra Beach on Fri­day.

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