Louis Oosthuizen managed to salvage par most of the time he was in trouble in the third round of the South African Open at Randpark Golf Club on Saturday and his reward is a three-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round of the prestigious tri-sanctioned tournament.
An excellent putting display allowed Oosthuizen to gather six birdies and with just two bogeys on his card, he signed for a 67, 14-under-par overall and enjoying a handy lead over former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, world number 44 Matt Wallace and unheralded Zambian Madalitso Muthiya.
“I didn’t think it was possible for it to be windier than it was in the second round, but it was, so it’s very strange weather for Joburg. But I played solid, pretty good golf and I saved quite a few par putts. For the sake of my heart you’d like the ball to be closer, but I hit a few errant tee-shots.
“The Firethorn course is really difficult, the wind has changed things in terms of my game-plan and the set-up is clever, a lot of the pins are in the front when the holes are downwind, which makes it difficult. But I kept it together when I was out of it and managed to save my pars,” Oosthuizen said.
Overnight leader Schwartzel slipped back to 11-under after a one-over-par 72, and he felt he was too far from the hole for most of the day.
“I lived here, I grew up playing golf here, but I have never played two days of golf in a row where the wind blows like this in Johannesburg. It is very abnormal and it made it difficult. A lot of the pins were tucked away so it was very difficult to go at them with the wind that was blowing. So you constantly got 30 or 40-footers and for that reason I tried to make pars.
“That was a tough day, but I sort of hung in there and I’ve still got a chance tomorrow. Three shots back is close enough to make Louis scared. I don’t know how the forecast is for the final round, but I am playing well. I putted better on the first two days and I just have to find that game. It is there somewhere, it is not far away,” Schwartzel said.
Muthiya found himself in dangerous waters when a double-bogey six at the 10th hole saw him sink to eight-under-par, four behind Oosthuizen. His troubles included a double-bogey at the par-three fifth when he was penalised one shot for a double-hit. But the 35-year-old pulled things back superbly with three birdies in his next four holes and he then parred his way in with some brilliant clutch putts.
I’m very proud of how I was able to fight back given the circumstances and the conditions, so just being able to do that, making two birdies on that bad stretch, was actually good. There was a little pressure, but sometimes I like to take things a little lighter than what they should be, but it was great fun out there today,” Muthiya said.