Louis shoots into lead

His friend Charl giv­ing chase in SA Open

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - JACQUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN jacques.vd­west­[email protected]

WITH a three-shot lead go­ing into to­day’s fi­nal round of the SA Open at Rand­park Golf Club, Louis Oosthuizen will be the hot favourite to fi­nally win his na­tional open ti­tle. But he’s go­ing to be pushed all the way by three men, in­clud­ing close friend Charl Schwartzel, all of whom are three shots back.

Oosthuizen, who shot a scin­til­lat­ing joint best ever score of nine-un­der 62 in SA Open his­tory in round one, grabbed the lead from Schwartzel yes­ter­day af­ter fir­ing a four-un­der-par 67 in windy con­di­tions on the Firethorn course.

His round in­cluded six birdies and two bo­geys and he sits at 14-un­der-par af­ter three rounds.

“It’s 18 more holes of good golf. I’m go­ing to take it one shot at a time,” said Oosthuizen about the prospect of tri­umph­ing to­day.

He said play­ing in strong winds through­out his round was a chal­lenge, but that his hot put­ter had helped him get the job done.

“I didn’t think it was pos­si­ble to be more windy than it was on Fri­day. It was very strange, it was tough again,” he said. “But I played well, hit a few bad drives, but the ball rolled off the put­ter nicely. I played solid golf.”

Three shots back at 11-un­der­par are three play­ers who’ll look to chase down Oosthuizen to­day. Be­sides Schwartzel, who bat­tled in the wind with a one-over-par 72, which in­cluded just one birdie and two bo­geys, Eng­land’s Matt Wal­lace and Zam­bia’s Madal­itso Muthiya are also in the hunt.

Wal­lace went round in 68 blows which in­cluded six birdies and three dropped shots, while Muthiya’s lev­el­par score of 71 in­cluded five birdies, one bo­gey and two dou­ble-bo­geys.

Schwartzel said it was nice to be in con­tention again af­ter a dif­fi­cult year. “Three shots back is close enough for Louis to be scared,” said the for­mer Mas­ters cham­pion, who is also chas­ing a first na­tional open ti­tle af­ter twice be­ing run­ner-up.

“I haven’t been in this po­si­tion for a while; it’s ex­cit­ing and nice to be in con­tention again. It’s not nice play­ing at 8 o’clock in the morn­ing in 40th po­si­tion; it’s much bet­ter tee­ing off when you’ve got a chance to win.

“Louis is play­ing good golf, but three shots is noth­ing in any cir­cum­stances. If he plays good golf again he’ll win it, but if he doesn’t and we play good golf we’ll beat him.”

Schwartzel, who shot a stun­ning eight-un­der-par 63 on Fri­day, said the windy con­di­tions had made scor­ing dif­fi­cult yes­ter­day. “I grew up in Joburg, and play­ing golf here, but I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced two days in a row where the wind has blown like this. It’s ab­nor­mal and made it very dif­fi­cult out there.

“It was a dis­ap­point­ing day for me. I got off to a bad start, missed two short putts (on the first and third holes) and then didn’t cap­i­talise on a few good birdie op­por­tu­ni­ties later on. But, I hung in there and I’ve still got a chance.”

Eight play­ers, in­clud­ing five-time cham­pion Ernie Els and Bran­den Grace, are at eight-un­der-par and six shots off the lead. Els, play­ing his third round along­side his nephew, am­a­teur star Jo­van Re­bula, shot a three-un­der­par 68 that in­cluded seven birdies. Four dropped shots how­ever, in­clud­ing on his last two holes, cost him a chance of be­ing bet­ter placed go­ing into the fi­nal round.

A fur­ther nine play­ers are at sev­e­nun­der-par, in­clud­ing Fin­land’s Ta­pio Pulkka­nen, South Africa’s Zan­der Lom­bard and Haydn Por­te­ous, and the USA’s Kurt Ki­tayama, who won the Afra­sia Mau­ri­tius Open last week.


LOUIS Oosthuizen re­acts at Rand­park yes­ter­day|

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