It wasn’t the moving day he wanted but after battling to a level par 72, it was the one Louis Oosthuizen will take, writes WADE PRETORIUS at Sun City.
Oosthuizen will arrive on the first tee tomorrow morning within two strokes of the lead and 18 holes away from what will be one of the most memorable victories of his career.
Playing on home soil, in front of a passionate home crowd and with family and friends walking the gallery beside him, it was a hard grind but ultimately a good one.
A birdie at 18 combined with Sergio Garcia’s bogey means Oosthuizen surrendered just a single shot to his good friend despite not playing anywhere near his best.
Oosthuizen admitted he was struggling early on and quickly realized it was a day to hold position and not play himself out of the tournament completely.
‘It was tough for me. I didn’t play well and didn’t hit many good shots. I realized early on that it was a round I needed to keep together and not really blow myself out of the tournament. I hung in there nicely,’ he said.
The 2010 Open champion was left to rue a costly mental error on the 14th which ultimately cost him a shot as he hit a wedge short and was left with an almost unplayable bunker shot.
The fight he showed was pleasing but he knows that he needs a far better round tomorrow if he is to follow in compatriot Branden Grace’s footsteps.
‘Yeah, these are the rounds you take a lot of positive out; if you don’t play well and you’re still in it to win.
‘You know, the birdie on the last was a big momentum for me going into tomorrow, and two behind is a lot better than four behind. But yeah, it was a tough day. I just need to dial in a bit tomorrow and hopefully hit it a little better.’
Oosthuizen can’t wait to peg it up with Garcia tomorrow but insists he won’t go out chasing the Spaniard. Instead, he will keep to the plan and wait until the back nine to reassess the situation.
‘I will wait until then to decided how hard I need to push. On this golf course, you just never know. It’s going to be a great day regardless and I can’t wait.’
The thirst for a local winner may not be as severe as it once was but such is the nature of South African sports fans, they will be craving the picture of the king holding the crystal ball come 3pm.