Flaw­less Oosthuizen leads the way at Rand­park


BE­FORE shoot­ing a scin­til­lat­ing open­ing round nine-un­der-par 62 at the South African Open yes­ter­day, the last time Louis Oosthuizen played the Bush­wil­low course at Rand­park Golf Club was some 18 years ago.

At that stage the course looked markedly dif­fer­ent to what it looks like to­day, hav­ing un­der­gone a re­design not too long ago, and it was also known by an­other name – Wind­sor.

It mat­tered lit­tle though, as the for­mer Open cham­pion needed only 62 strokes to post his scin­til­lat­ing score and lead by one stroke from Zam­bia’s Madal­itso Muthiya and last week’s win­ner in Mau­ri­tius, Amer­i­can Kurt Ki­tayama, af­ter the first round.

In all, Oosthuizen had nine birdies in a blem­ish-free round af­ter play­ing just one prac­tice round on Wed­nes­day on the course.

“I don’t re­mem­ber much of the course, hav­ing last played it around 2000 or 2001,” said Oosthuizen prior to his first round, adding it would be cru­cial to make plenty of birdies early on.

Af­ter his round yes­ter­day he said: “Of course I’m pleased. Any time, any­where if you go nine-un­der it will feel nice. It was one of those rounds where you didn’t have to look at the card, you could just play.

“I drove it well, gave my­self op­por­tu­ni­ties to hit it close, and I putted nicely. Birdie af­ter birdie just came.”

He made three on the front nine for 32 and con­tin­ued on his back nine with birdies at 10, 11, 12, 14, 16 and 17 for 30.

“Hit­ting the driver down-wind you could get it close, some­times within 70 yards of the hole.

“And if you’re put­ting nicely it’s a course you can score on,” said Oosthuizen, who added he was pleased he had ne­go­ti­ated the Bush­wil­low course so well and could now fo­cus solely on the tougher Firethorn course.

All the play­ers this week play a round each on the Bush­wil­low and Firethorn cour­ses with the fi­nal two rounds played on the Firethorn lay­out only over the week­end for those who make the cut.

“There’s a long way to go. I’ve got the one course out of the way and can now fo­cus on the main course. I pre­fer it that way... I can now get into a rhythm hope­fully on one course only.”

Muthiya, ranked 1 330th in the world, also started his tour­na­ment on the Bush­wil­low course and, like Oosthuizen, without a bo­gey, his front nine 29 in­clud­ing six birdies.

Ki­tayama, play­ing on the trick­ier Firethorn course in the af­ter­noon, tied the course record with an eight-un­der-par 63 that in­cluded an eagle-three on the parfive 14th.

“I played well last week and am now kind of just rid­ing the mo­men­tum. I’m put­ting well and I now need to keep the con­fi­dence up. There are prob­a­bly some scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties out there on Bush­wil­low (which he’ll play to­day), and I’m play­ing early, so I’m happy where I am right now.”

The one other player to go re­ally low on the Firethorn lay­out was Zan­der Lom­bard, who af­ter mak­ing a bo­gey five on his open­ing hole, reg­is­tered eight birdies for a score of seven-un­der-par 64.

Three play­ers were a fur­ther shot back and three off the lead. Eng­land’s Matt Wal­lace, Zim­babwe’s Mark Wil­liams and South Africa’s Ty­rone Fer­reira all recorded scores of 65, six­un­der-par.


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