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Archive for Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oosthuizen making name for himself, leads by 4 at British Open

July 18, 2010

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— Louis Oosthuizen had made it to the weekend of a major championship just once before in his career, much less dealt with the anxiety of shouldering a lead overnight.

And now he found himself challenged with some 29 hours of it.

“There’s just so much lying around you can do,” he concluded.

Nor did it help matters when the 27-year-old South African went out and bogeyed Saturday’s opening hole at St. Andrews. Here comes the letdown, many thought.

Never happened.

Oosthuizen never gave another stroke back to par, in fact, pulling together a 3-under-par 69 that left him with another chance to sleep on the British Open lead — four strokes in front, and 18 holes from holding the claret jug.

Maybe then folks will learn how to pronounce his name.

Again for the record, it’s WUHST-hy-zen.

“I don’t think anyone was thinking I was going to be up there,” Oosthuizen said. “You’ve heard it yourself no one can actually say my surname, so they don’t even know who I am out there.

“Yeah, it’s great being up there (in front). I just want to enjoy everything about it.”

Pushed all day by England’s Paul Casey, Oosthuizen birdied two of his final three holes at the Old Course to open some distance between him and his only close pursuer. After Casey, no one else is closer than seven strokes back.

Oosthuizen reached the three-round checkpoint at 15-under 201, three off the Open record and two shy of Nick Faldo’s mark for best 54-hole Open score at St. Andrews. He owns just four bogeys on the week — no more than two in any round.

“Louis has actually been playing some really good golf this year,” said countryman Retief Goosen, twice a major champion himself. “He has one of the best swings on (the European) Tour. And he’s a good wind player grew up in an area that’s very windy.”

Casey posted a 67, making five birdies in a front-side 31 but stalling with nine pars the rest of the way. Then you have to go all the way back to 8-under to find Germany’s Martin Kaymer (68), with three golfers another stroke back.

Tiger Woods carded a 1-over 73 on Saturday, falling 12 shots off the pace and seeing the window all but close on his bid to become the first man to capture three Opens at St. Andrews.

“I just didn’t get anything out of the round,” said Woods, whose seventh start without a win would set a new personal low for longest drought to start a season. “I couldn’t build any momentum, wasn’t making any putts.”

Oosthuizen began Saturday with a five-stroke advantage, having missed most of Friday’s windblown chaos that sent afternoon scores soaring. The gap-toothed golfer had posted his 67 in the day’s opening group.

Combined with Saturday’s late start to let 30 golfers complete their second rounds, that meant Oosthuizen had to wait some 29 hours before hitting another shot that meant anything.

“It felt like a week and a half, really,” said Oosthuizen, who remained in his hotel room well into Saturday afternoon.

He caught a bit of the morning rounds on TV, after seeing his rugby countrymen drubbed by New Zealand in the Tri Nations Cup.

“It wasn’t a good start,” Oosthuizen said.

Nor was his opening hole, after his lag putt from the edge of the green zoomed some 10 feet past the hole and he missed the comebacker.

“I was quite a bit nervous on the first,” Oosthuizen said. “But I got myself together and made a few par saves. ... I felt like I swung it really well all day.”

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