Louis shoots into lead
His friend Charl giving chase in SA Open
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|