Louis shin­ing brightly at Sun City

Oosthuizen’s hot 67 puts him just one back of leader Gar­cia

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MICHAEL GREEN

LOUIS Oosthuizen took ad­van­tage of Ser­gio Gar­cia’s bat­tling home­ward nine at the Gary Player Coun­try Club at Sun City yes­ter­day to fire a five-un­der-par 67 and move to within one stroke of the half­way lead of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge hosted by Gary Player.

Oosthuizen three-putted the eighth hole for the sec­ond day in suc­ces­sion as he made dou­ble-bo­gey there, but five birdies and an ea­gle saw him reach 36 holes in eight-un­der-par 136.

“You know, the eighth hole, I don’t feel like I re­ally have a club for that hole to tee off,” he said yes­ter­day.

“I want to hit three-iron, but it’s prob­a­bly the nar­row­est part of the fair­way where you want to hit three­iron and try­ing to hit it a long way, as well. It’s just a tough tee shot on my eye, and I have to work on that (to­day).”

Gar­cia still has the lead, how­ever, and the Span­ish cham­pion from 2001 and 2003 is noth­ing if not ex­pe­ri­enced around a course he says is play­ing very tough.

The 2017 Mas­ters cham­pion carded a one-un­der-par 71, with three bo­geys on the way in to go with the one he made on the fifth, which was the first of his week. “The course is tough,” he said. “Not every day you’re go­ing to go out there and shoot 64 (his first round re­turn). It doesn’t work like that.

“I feel like I played quite well. Ob­vi­ously three three-putts, that’s never ideal. But on th­ese greens, it can hap­pen. They are so quick and some of the pins are so tucked to the edges that it’s dif­fi­cult to hit it close to them.

“But you know, other than that, I felt like I played well through­out the whole day. I stayed pos­i­tive. I stayed calm and just a shame that I wanted to shoot some­thing below 70 and I didn’t. I felt like I had a chance of do­ing it. Un­for­tu­nately it didn’t work out but we’re still in the lead.”

For Oosthuizen, things re­ally went his way be­cause he was play­ing very well. “Not look­ing at the one tee shot that I hit on eight, I feel like I’m hit­ting it well off the tee,” he said.

“I’m find­ing the fair­ways and my iron-play has been good for a while. I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing well. I’m just not mak­ing those putts that look like they are go­ing in. I’m hit­ting very good putts. I haven’t hit many bad putts this week. You just need those putts to go in to win events.”

Fin­land’s Miko Korho­nen fired a two-un­der-par 70 to nes­tle into third spot, two be­hind Oosthuizen.

Two shots fur­ther back was a group of four play­ers on four-un­der-par, just five off the lead. That group in­cluded South Africa’s Dy­lan Frit­telli, English­man Aaron Rai, Ire­land’s Shane Lowry and two-time cham­pion at Sun City, Lee West­wood of Eng­land.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Bran­den Grace was an­other stroke back on three-un­der at the half­way mark, and by no means out of con­tention af­ter his bat­tling 71.

“I missed three putts in­side three or four feet and that’s pretty costly around here,” said Grace.

“That can turn a great round into an av­er­age round like it did at the end of the day. But I’m still in there.”

So is Oosthuizen.

“Now I need a good, solid third round.” he said. “I don’t have to re­ally at­tack or do any­thing crazy, but just play solid to put me in a good spot for Sun­day. I’m very ex­cited. I’ve got quite a few friends and fam­ily here and ob­vi­ously the home crowd be­hind me.”

Fel­low South African Charl Schwartzel crashed to a 78 yes­ter­day, tak­ing an ugly nine at the 15th.

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