Oosthuizen takes lead with flawless first round
He hardly looked up to check the leaderboard but by the time Louis Oosthuizen removed his cap for a handshake with his playing partners on Thursday, he held a respectable lead after his opening round in the SA Open at Johannesburg’s Randpark Golf Club.
He had blazed his way around the shorter but curvier Bushwillow layout‚ carding a blemish-free round of 62 that included nine birdies on the par-71 course.
His early-afternoon lead was‚ however‚ trimmed in the late afternoon to just one shot as American Kurt Kitayama – winner of last week’s Mauritius Open – negotiated the more demanding Firethorn layout in a tied course record 63.
Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya’s scorching outward six-under 29 helped lay the platform for his opening-round 63. Muthiya‚ a product of the University of New Mexico‚ is ranked 1,330th in the world but he belied that lowly position with a flawless round on Thursday.
With half the field playing the longer Firethorn layout before changing around on Friday‚ Oosthuizen knows the score he posted has to be measured in a parallel universe.
Among the leading 26 players after the first round, only Kitayama‚ SA’s Zander Lombard who is on seven under‚ Jake Roos and Charl Schwartzel‚ as well as Germany’s Max Schmitt, played the Firethorn layout.
Still, nine-under is nine-under and Oosthuizen is satisfied.
“Anytime‚ anywhere nineunder is going to feel nice.
“It was one of those rounds where you don’t look at the scores or your card‚ you just play,” Oosthuizen said.
“I have one golf course out of the way and now I can focus on the main golf course for the week. It feels like a new tournament starting for me on Friday,” he said.
He will have Matt Wallace for company again on Friday.
The Englishman made a breezy start and is three shots off the lead, along with Zimbabwe’s Mark Williams and SA’s Tyrone Ferreira.
Five-time champion and tournament host Ernie Els was a popular early frontrunner.
His 66 left him four off the pace, along with SA’s David McIntyre‚ ranked 999th in the world.