Louis Oosthuizen didn’t quite create the separation of 11 years ago at St Andrews but it looks ominously like the South African can do so over the weekend of the 149th Open Championship.
The sweet-swinging Oosthuizen ran away with the 2010 Open on the Old Course. When he eagled the 14th to go three clear in the summer gloaming at Sandwich, it seemed likely to be happening again.
A bogey at the short 16th mean his lead is just two over Collin Morikawa and three over Jordan Spieth, but after so many runners-up positions in majors since St Andrews, you have to think this is Louis’ big chance for a second major.
He’s not taking anything for granted, however.
‘You understand that anything can happen’
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 16, 2021
“You try not to think about winning,” he said. “The first time I thought about winning in 2010 was on the 17th tee on Sunday. It’s St Andrews and you understand that anything can happen.
“It’ll be the same here, a lot can go wrong on this golf course. I won’t even be thinking about winning until we’re in position late on Sunday.”
Louis’ 65 for an 11-under 129 smashed the 36-hole record for the Open, but he wasn’t even aware of that.
“I was told when I came in but didn’t know that,” he said. “To be part of any record in an Open Championship is special. But I think we got…I won’t say lucky but we had the best weather on the back nine that you could possibly have on this golf course.”
The eagle at 14 came after a four-iron Oosthuizen was actually trying to lay up, but it got a good hop and he holed out from 20 feet. Without a bogey for 33 holes, he finally dropped a shot hitting into Thomas Bjorn’s bunker at the short 16th.
Spieth was in a three-way tie for first place when he was playing the 14th with Oosthuizen on the 12th. But failure to even birdie the long hole playing easiest on the course, followed by a bogey at the 15th, meant he was four behind when Louis eagled the 14th.
‘I got in a weird head space’
Although Oosthuizen’s first mis-step at the 16th got Spieth to within three, the 2017 champion found the last six holes of his 67 “kind of frustrating”.
“I got really just in a weird head space, like fatigued there on like the 13th green as we were waiting and hitting putts,” he said.
“I just didn’t stay focused like I was early in the round, wasn’t very sharp. It’s an easy solution for tomorrow, just bring more food on the course.
Spieth rationalised his position as “second to last group on a Saturday is good”.
“I was eyeing a number lower than what I finished at, as Louis is showing. They’ll let the greens firm up because that will be the defence of the golf course.
“That was the case the last time The Open Championship was held here. It puts more of a premium on hitting out of the fairway for sure.
“I might look into what clubs I’m hitting off tees. I’ve been able to hit driver a lot around this course, and I’m not sure if that’ll stay the same or if I’ll look to make sure we’re positioning ourselves in the fairway more.”
DeChambeau contrite after ‘driver sucks’ outburst
Bryson DeChambeau just issued this apology via Instagram, saying:
-his post-round comment was 'very unprofessional'
-'I sucked today, not my equipment.'
-Cobra's Ben Schomin is 'like family'
-controlling his emotions is a 'constant work in progress' pic.twitter.com/iAtXqdn5GK
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) July 15, 2021
There was plenty more movement just off the main leaderboard – Brooks Koepka started to hole putts and shot 66, Jon Rahm balzed a 64 to get himself back in the tournament – although still six behind – and Dustin Johnson had a 65.
And after his equipment outburst on Thursday, Bryson DeChambeau was contrite and apologetic. He shot a par 70 to make the cut on the mark.
“I’ll say it again; I’m very, very sorry,” he said. “I mis-spoke in a heated moment. That got the best of me.
“There are things going on right now that everybody latches onto. I am 27, I am human, I make mistakes.
“Yesterday was one of those. I continue to keep making mistakes unfortunately.”