9th November 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Oosthuizen’s 67 puts him in touch with Sun City lead
Louis Oosthuizen took advantage of Sergio Garcia’s battling homeward nine at Gary Player Country Club on Friday to fire a five-under-par 67 and move within one of the halfway lead of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
Oosthuizen three-putted the eighth hole for the second day in succession as he made double bogey there, but five birdies and an eagle saw him reach 36 holes in eight-under-par 136.
“You know, the eighth hole, I don’t feel like I really have a club for that hole to tee off,” he said. “I want to hit three-iron, but it’s probably the narrowest part of the fairway where you want to hit three-iron and trying to hit it a long way, as well. It’s just a tough tee shot on my eye, and I have to work on that tomorrow.”
Garcia still has the lead, however, and the Spanish champion from 2001 and 2003 is nothing if not experienced around a course he says is playing very tough. The 2017 Masters champion carded a one-under-par 71, with three bogeys on the way in to go with the one he made on the fifth, which was the first of his week.
“The course is tough,” he said. “Not every day you’re going to go out there and shoot 64. It doesn’t work like that. I feel like I played quite well. Obviously three three-putts, that’s never ideal. But on these greens, it can happen. They are so quick and some of the pins are so tucked to the edges that it’s difficult to hit it close to them.
“But you know, other than that, I felt like I played well throughout the whole day. I stayed positive. I stayed calm and just a shame that, I wanted to shoot something below 70. I felt like I had a chance of doing it. Unfortunately it didn’t work out but we’re still in the lead.”
For Oosthuizen, things really went his way because he was playing very well. “Not looking at the one tee shot that I hit on eight, I feel like I’m hitting it well off the tee,” he said. “I’m finding the fairways and my iron-play has been good for a while. I’m doing everything well. I’m just not making those putts that look like they are going in. I’m hitting very good putts. I haven’t hit many bad putts this week. You just need those putts to go in to win events.”
Finland’s Miko Korhonen fired a two-under-par 70 to nestle into third spot, two behind Oosthuizen. And two shots further back was a group of four players on four-under-par, just five off the lead. That group included South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, Englishman Aaron Rai, Ireland’s Shane Lowry and two-time champion at Sun City, Lee Westwood of England.
Defending champion Branden Grace was another stroke back on three-under at the halfway mark, and by no means out of contention after his battling 71. “I missed three putts inside three or four feet and that’s pretty costly around here,” said Grace. “That can turn a great round into an average round like it did at the end of the day. But I’m still in there.”
So is Oosthuizen. “I need a good, solid round tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t have to really attack or do anything crazy, but just a solid round to put me in a good spot for Sunday. I’m very excited. I’ve got quite a few friends and family here and obviously the home crowd behind me. It should be fun playing tomorrow.”