8th December 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Louis fixes his swing on way to SA Open lead
Louis Oosthuizen had to tinker with his swing on Saturday during the third round of the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg, but he still managed to fire a four-under-par 67 at Randpark Golf Club.
His six birdies and two bogeys gave him the best round of a strangely gusty highveld December day and a three-stroke lead over England’s Matt Wallace, Zambian Madalitso Muthiya and his old friend Charl Schwartzel, as the 2010 Open champion seeks to win his first national open title.
“When things looked difficult early on in the round, I thought I was okay,” said Oosthuizen. “And then I hit some errant tee shots on five and six and 10 and 11. So I went back to hitting just a knock-down cut sort of shot with my driver on 12 and 13, and then 14 I felt comfortable again over it. You get those things during a round. Your tempo changes a little bit and you just need to fix it quickly before you start thinking about it too much.”
It was a day on which his putting, as much as any other part of his game, kept him ahead of the chasing pack. “I feel comfortable with the putter,” he said. “I’ve been working on a few things with it and I feel really solid over it. But for my heart, I want to hit it a little closer than I did today. I made a lot of saving par putts, but all in all, it’s just rolling nicely.”
A string of five pars in a row around the turn seemed to suggest things had gone quiet for him, but them he made three birdies in four holes to ignite his round again. “After the big par-save on 10, 12 was a crucial birdie, I felt, into the wind. And 14, I only had gap wedge into that par-five today and I needed another yard for it to be really good. It ended up a tough up-and-down for birdie. Then I made a good swing on 15 and birdied it. I sometimes feel the into-the-wind shots are easier to control than the downwind.”
Wallace had a topsy-turvy homeward nine on his way to a three-under 68, with three bogeys, three pars and three birdies. It was the birdie on 18 that pleased him most. “That birdie on the last was the biggest putt of the week so far for me,” he said. “I thought I’d hit it a bit too hard but thankfully, it was on line. I hit everything I had in my line today which was massive.”
Muthiya had a penalty for a double-hit on the fifth when he tried to knock his ball out of the fringe with a fairway wood. The resulting double-bogey was joined on his card by another on the 10th, but he held things together for a level-par round to keep himself in contention. “I’m very proud of how I was able to fight back,” he said. “Under the circumstances, the conditions, just being able to do that, making two birdies on the stretch was actually good.”
Schwartzel could hardly find a fairway during his round of one-over-par 72, but he was pleased to be able to stay in contention. “I don’t know what the forecast is tomorrow, but I am playing well,” he said. “I putted slightly better the first two days. I just have to find the game that I had the first two days. It is there somewhere, it is not far away. Three shots back is close enough to make Louis scared.”
Oosthuizen has led after 54 holes 14 times in his career, and gone on to win on eight of those occasions. So he knows what’s required. “I just need to go out tomorrow and do the same as I did today,” he said.