Oosthuizen back in major shape in US Open

Louis Oosthuizen got his US Open off to the kind of start that had him feeling that his world had turned right side up again after it went all topsy-turvy when he won last year’s Open Championship.

He carded a two-under-par 69 on the devilishly difficult 7,575-yard Congressional Golf Club for a share of fourth place behind the brilliant opening 65 by Rory McIlroy, who looked back to the superlative form which saw him dominate the Masters until the last round when Charl Schwartzel came through for the victory.

And Schwartzel was in the mix once more, sharing second one stroke ahead of Oosthuizen on three-under-par 68 with YE Yang.

For Oosthuizen, there was a sense of familiarity about the scenario with McIlroy starting fast – the Northern Irishman started with a 63 in the opening round when Oosthuizen won at St Andrews.

So it is about keeping his head the way he did in Scotland: “Any major tournament, I think you’re just trying to play – never get too far ahead of yourself or trying to make miracle shots, especially early in the tournament,” he said. “You just want to get yourself into a position to have a chance.”

It was a day that started with a little rain at Congressional, which slowed the greens just a shade down to simply lightning-fast as opposed to greased-lightning.

“It was a little drizzly but only for the first hole, which actually softened up the greens a little bit,” said Oosthuizen. “It didn’t look like it with the way I started with two bogeys. I came back nicely after that and had a nice round of birdies.”

One of the best birdies of his – or anybody’s – round came on the 11th: “It was probably the best four-iron I’ve ever hit,” he said of the shot that ended up less than a foot from the hole. “I had to hit a low draw into the wind, 188 metres, pitch it in the middle of the green, just released. I nearly holed it.”

Schwartzel had a great shot of his own, a miraculous 50-footer of a putt for birdie on the third after he had started his round on the 10th with a bogey.

He followed that by doing exactly what he said needs to be done in the US Open with its tough set up – he made a run of 10 consecutive pars before he ran that long putt up the ridge and squarely into the hole.

It got him going and three consecutive birdies from five to seven saw him edge closer to McIlroy’s faultless display.

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