Oosthuizen, Scott start strong at Augusta

Louis Oosthuizen equalled defending champion Adam Scott’s 69 during the opening round of the 78th Masters where the duo shared second, one shot behind leader Bill Haas.


“You see it every year with guys that have won here before, they're usually up on the leaderboard,” said Oosthuizen. “I know I can play this golf course, but your game needs to be on form.”


It was a serendipitous tie for second on Thursday, with Scott and Oosthuizen being met on three-under-par by 2012 champion Bubba Watson.


Oosthuizen finished second to Watson in a playoff for the 2012 Masters, but last year missed the cut. That’s the beauty of Augusta National – if you play well you can score well, but bad shots are punished. This year the 2010 Open Champion is relishing his sixth trip to the challenging course, and an opening 69 has given him a foothold into the week.


“This golf course you learn to play over the years,” he said. “I think if you do really well your first year, you've done something that a lot of guys haven't done.  Just to be here is a great experience.


“Today was great fun out there. I try to smile my troubles away when it gets difficult.  But it’s going to be tough for everyone and for a Thursday it was pretty slick on the greens."


The 31-year-old has battled intermittent back injuries for a year, but right now his fitness and game are good. Stringing four rounds together is crucial this week, and King Louis has to watch out for injury.


“I've been feeling this coming for a while that I'm swinging well, playing well, and I had a bit of a scare yesterday when I picked up my little girl, but just this morning it was all better. Some days it's good, some days it's not.  So I'm managing it pretty good, knowing what I should and shouldn't do,” he said.


The Mossel Bay local had an impressive outward nine of 33 strokes that included a birdie at the second hole, a hole where Oosthuizen made history when he became the first player to make an albatross at The Masters. Good memories always help under pressure.


“I stood there today and I thought, well, this can have a chance.  So I think I used to be pretty, well pretty bad before the two I made on that hole.  After the two, I've been making a few more birdies there.  So I just needed that chip to get me going,” he said.


Charl Schwartzel was the next best South African in the clubhouse on one-over-par 73, which put the 2011 Masters Champion into a share of 27th. It was a tough day on a tough track, but Schwartzel made a late charge and birdied the 14th and 16th to salvage his chances for the week.


Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge managed an opening 74 to share 40th, while Ernie Els went one shot higher to share 53rd. Both players need a good Friday to bring themselves back into the running.


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