Louis Oosthuizen walks from the 18th green after retaining his lead – photo David Cannon Getty via R&A
Louis Oosthuizen has retained his lead at the completion of the third round of the Open Championship at Royal St Georges, recovering from a shaky period early in his back nine when consecutive bogeys at the 11th and 13th holes saw him sharing the lead before a birdie at the 16th and assistance from others re-established his outright lead.
Oosthuizen leads by one over Collin Morikawa with another two back to Jordan Spieth so despite changes throughout the day the same three players in order through 36 holes are in those places again heading into tomorrow’s final round.
Ooosthuizen acknowledged that he might have put the tournament to bed with a really strong back nine but he was also aware that Royal St Georges can give with one hand and take with the other.
“I was 13 at a 0ne stage,” he said. “Probably a good back nine could have gone to 14 or 15. There was a few very tough pins out there that you can’t really go for at all. You always had to make those 20-footers for birdie.
“I made a few bad swings there in the middle of the round and put me in some awkward positions and ended up making two bogeys. 4-iron in on 14 and I made a horrible swing, ended up making a par.
“I did have a lot of opportunities to go two or three better, but that’s what this golf course can do to you.”
The almost cliched question of just what he will do over the next twenty or so hours before the start of tomorrow’s round at 2.35 pm was asked.
“You know, I’m going to try and stay awake as long as I can tonight because I know the tee time is probably going to be around 3:00, 3:30 again tomorrow.
“No, I’ll do the same thing. Not really change anything that I do. I think all of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it.
“Once we get on the golf course, it’s all golf. You need to believe that you can lift the trophy, as well, and if
you think about it beforehand that you might win this championship, I think that’s great, and you have to believe you can do it.
“I think if you’re someone that really thinks about it all the time, you’ve got to get your mind off it, do something to keep you busy, do something else.I don’t know. I don’t really change my routine whether I’ve got a two-shot lead or I’m trailing by eight.
Morikawa knows that despite his PGA title he is relatively inexperienced in this situation but says he will draw on his PGA title to assist him tomorrow.
I think the biggest thing I can draw from the PGA is just knowing I can get it done. But I think confidence just comes from hitting good shots, quality shots, seeing putts go in. There is a lot to draw from, especially
“I don’t have much experience on links golf, and pretty much all the highlights in my head are from this week. Thankfully there are quite a few. Hopefully we can just use that momentum from the first three days and just bring it into the last 18. It’s going to be a grueling 18, but I look forward to it.”
Almost inexplicably Spieth bogeyed his final two holes, a hiccup that might prove crucial tomorrow.
Cameron Smith leads the Australasian challenge and at one stage during his round he was making bee lines for the lead. Smith raced to the turn in 32 and was within striking distance of the lead but bogeys at his 10th and 11th holes cost him momentum.
He would eventually finish with a strong round of 68 and is six from the lead having made up one shot on Oosthuizen.
“Yeah, it was really, really solid today,” he said Probably the best ball striking day of the week. Just a couple of
drives there on the back nine. Got unlucky a couple times there.
“You know, that’s just links golf. Just kept at and kept trying to make my birdies and carry on. No, really solid stuff.
“It’s going to take a big one tomorrow. Course is firming up nicely. Still not unplayable, birdies are still there, but it’s going to have to be pretty perfect, I think. Louis and Jordan at the top of the leaderboard, two great competitors that’ll be tough to catch.”
Ryan Fox dropped three shots in his opening two holes but did well to eventually record a round of 71 to be at 3 under and nine shots off the pace.
Adam Scott struggled throughout the day his round of 71 leaving him well back in 58th position.