Louis Oosthuizen like a man on an Open mission as he takes two-shot lead

Former champion adds 65 to opening 64 but big guns line up behind him on leaderboard

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after completing his second round at the British Open at  Royal St George’s. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Getty Images

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after completing his second round at the British Open at Royal St George’s. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Getty Images

 

On seaside terrain which proved the inspiration and setting for Goldfinger, Louis Oosthuizen was like a man on a mission: yet, even as a record breaker in reaching the midpoint of the 149th Open Championship in fewer shots – 129 – than anyone has ever taken in its history, there were no tangible rewards for the South African to lay his hands on. No Claret Jug, no €1.75 million payday, no second career Major.

Eleven years on from first claiming the old trophy, so far his only Major title, Oosthuizen strode the links at Royal St George’s with cool intent. Indeed, having avoided a bogey in his first round, he did so again in his second round until a rare mistake on the Par-3 16th, where his tee shot found a greenside bunker and he finally showed human frailty in failing to get up and down.

Still and all, Oosthuizen’s performance – a second-round 65 to add to his opening 64 for a midway low total of 129, 11 under par – gave the South African a two-stroke lead over American Collin Morikawa, last year’s US PGA champion, who, on his Open debut, gave an exhibition in iron play for a 64.

On a day when the lack of wind stole away the links’ primary defence, players took full advantage of the benign weather conditions. The task of avoiding the penal, heavy rough was made an easier one and, for the most part, players made the most of such an opportunity. The cut fell on 141, one over, with 77 survivors, but it was the number in red figures under par – 52 – that made this an Open unlike many others.

For two days, it has been a thrilling and entertaining birdie-fest with players’ shot-making skills and creativity rewarded like no other time. Nobody has performed as well as Oosthuizen yet this is far from a done deal by any means and, with the forecast set to remain fair and with little wind, it may take some R&A tucking away of flags on the greens to present a stronger challenge over the weekend.

Oosthuizen’s sublime play gave him a two-stroke lead over Morikawa with Jordan Spieth a stroke further back in third and world number one Dustin Johnson (who had a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th on his way to a 65) among a trio of players another shot back, just four off the lead.

The lack of wind truly meant that the bite was taken out of the links, and among those to make hay in the conditions was Brooks Koepka, who finished with four birdies in his last five holes – including the last three – to move into contention, while 6’ 9’’ Englishman Jigger Thomson’s hole-in-one on the Par-3 16th, to get off the cut line and into the red, demonstrated the championship’s capacity to fulfil dreams.

Oosthuizen, with veteran Irish caddie Colin Byrne on his bag, made his big move on the back nine with a run of birdie-birdie-eagle from the 12th to the 14th. On the Par-5 14th, he hit a 3-wood off the tee and a 4-iron approach. “I didn’t think I was going to get to the green, we just wanted to play it somewhere in short,” he revealed. As it turned out, the ball took a nice hop forward and he rolled in the 18-footer for eagle to take a grip on proceedings.

Collin Morikawa plays a shot on the 17th hole during his second round at the British Open. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images
Collin Morikawa plays a shot on the 17th hole during his second round at the British Open. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

The only blip for Oosthuizen came on the short 16th, but he showed his fortitude on the 17th when – after flying the green and rolling down a deep swale – he saved par by sinking a 10-footer. Indeed, his improved putting (ranking statistically number one on the PGA Tour this season) has been a factor in his revitalising form in the Majors, which has seen him finish fifth at the Masters and runner-up to Jon Rahm at the US Open last month.

Of pursuing that second career Major, he said: “ Right now I think where my game is at, I just need to put myself in position. This year is the best I’ve been putting, and I just need to hit greens and give myself any opportunities for birdies,” adding:

“You try not to think of [winning] until you’ve done it. I remember looking back at 2010, and I know I had a big lead, but the first time I really thought about ‘I can win this tournament’ was after my tee shot on 17. There was a lot of things that could go wrong at St Andrews coming in, especially the tee shot on 14 and 16 and 17. Around this golf course, a lot of things can happen. I don’t think you want to think too much of it on a links course until you get to that 18th green [on Sunday], and hopefully you have a lead.”

Morikawa, competing in his first British Open, has found an immediate liking for the Sandwich links. as he put it: “Royal St George’s is beautiful. It’s a great golf course. I think it fits into a lot of shots that I love to hit, so hopefully we can just keep hitting fairways and giving ourselves good numbers to attack some pins . . . I feel like I can win if I stick to what I’ve been doing, stick to my approach shots, stick to those 8-irons, 9-irons, 7-irons, because that’s my bread and butter. That’s what I love to do.”

Leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 70, (a) denotes amateur
129
Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 64 65

131 Collin Morikawa (USA) 67 64

132 Jordan Spieth (USA) 65 67

133 Dustin Johnson (USA) 68 65, Scottie Scheffler (USA) 67 66, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 66 67

134 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 70 64, Justin Harding (Rsa) 67 67, Andy Sullivan 67 67, Daniel van Tonder (Rsa) 68 66, Marcel Siem (Ger) 67 67

135 Paul Casey 68 67, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 66 69, Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 66, Jon Rahm (Esp) 71 64, Cameron Tringale (USA) 69 66

136 Corey Conners (Can) 68 68, Tony Finau (USA) 70 66, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 68 68, Brian Harman (USA) 65 71, Shane Lowry 71 65, Cameron Smith (Aus) 69 67, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 68 68, Danny Willett 67 69

137 Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 67 70, Daniel Berger (USA) 70 67, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 70 67, Joel Dahmen (USA) 69 68, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 68 69, Justin Rose 67 70

138 Tommy Fleetwood 67 71, Ian Poulter 72 66, Chez Reavie (USA) 72 66, Webb Simpson (USA) 66 72, Jonathan Thomson 71 67, Johannes Veerman (USA) 70 68, Matt Wallace 70 68, Lee Westwood 71 67, Jack Senior 67 71

139 Max Homa (USA) 70 69, Billy Horschel (USA) 70 69, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 68 71, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 70 69, Chan Kim (USA) 70 69, Kevin Kisner (USA) 70 69, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 69 70, Aaron Rai 70 69, (a) Matthias Schmid (Ger) 74 65, Adam Scott (Aus) 73 66, Kevin Streelman (USA) 70 69, Justin Thomas (USA) 72 67, Lanto Griffin (USA) 69 70

140 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 69 71, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 68 72, Richard Bland 70 70, Sam Burns (USA) 71 69, Harris English (USA) 75 65, Matthew Fitzpatrick 71 69, Pádraig Harrington 72 68, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 66 74, Jason Kokrak (USA) 70 70, Rory McIlroy 70 70, Xander Schauffele (USA) 69 71, Sam Horsfield 70 70

141 Marcus Armitage 69 72, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 71 70, Rickie Fowler (USA) 69 72, Talor Gooch (USA) 69 72, Ryosuke Kinoshita (Jpn) 72 69, (a) Yuxin Lin (Chn) 69 72, Robert MacIntyre 72 69, Richard Mansell 72 69, J. C. Ritchie (Rsa) 71 70, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 70 71, Poom Saksansin (Tha) 73 68, Brendan Steele (USA) 73 68, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 70

Missed cut

142 Keegan Bradley (USA) 71 71, Jorge Campillo (Esp) 72 70, Tyrrell Hatton 72 70, Russell Henley (USA) 70 72, Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 70 72, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 72 70, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 74 68, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 69 73, Chris Kirk (USA) 68 74, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 71 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 75 67, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 69 73, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 68 74, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 73 69, Ryutaro Nagano (Jpn) 70 72, Ryan Palmer (USA) 72 70, Victor Perez (Fra) 70 72, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 71, Harold Varner III (USA) 70 72, Jimmy Walker (USA) 70 72

143 Rafael Cabrera Bello (Esp) 70 73, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 74 69, Stewart Cink (USA) 66 77, Branden Grace (Rsa) 72 71, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 70 73, Daniel Hillier (Nzl) 72 71, Charley Hoffman (USA) 72 71, Matt Jones (Aus) 72 71, Troy Merritt (USA) 73 70, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 72 71, Patrick Reed (USA) 72 71, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 71 72, (a) Laird Shepherd 74 69, Brendon Todd (USA) 72 71, Erik van Rooyen (Rsa) 69 74, Gary Woodland (USA) 73 70, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 74 69

144 John Catlin (USA) 75 69, Ricardo Celia (Col) 72 72, Ernie Els (Rsa) 72 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 71 73, Adam Hadwin (Can) 75 69, Richard T. Lee (Can) 75 69, Haotong Li (Chn) 75 69, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 75 69, Keith Mitchell (USA) 68 76, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 73 71

145 Jason Day (Aus) 75 70, Lucas Glover (USA) 75 70, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 71 74, Alexander Noren (Swe) 74 71, Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 75 70

146 Darren Clarke 71 75, (a) Cole Hammer (USA) 75 71, Matt Kuchar (USA) 74 72, (a) Joe Long 73 73, Thomas Detry (Bel) 72 74, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 74 72

147 Jaco Ahlers (Rsa) 68 79, (a) Sam Bairstow 75 72, (a) Christoffer Bring (Den) 72 75, Romain Langasque (Fra) 74 73, Joost Luiten (Ned) 76 71, Chengtsung Pan (Tai) 71 76

148 Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 73 75, Nicholas Poppleton 75 73, Paul Waring 72 76

149 (a) Abel Gallegos (Arg) 73 76, Ben Hutchinson 77 72, Aaron Pike (Aus) 74 75, Marcel Schneider (Ger) 73 76, Adam Long (USA) 72 77

150 Sam Forgan 73 77, Connor Worsdall 77 73

152 Phil Mickelson (USA) 80 72

154 Daniel Croft 76 78

156 Yuki Inamori (Jpn) 75 81

157 Deyen Lawson (Aus) 80 77

Saturday tee-times

9:20 Yuxin Lin (Chn)
9:30 Talor Gooch (USA), Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
9:40 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Richard Mansell
9:50 J C Ritchie (Rsa), Marcus Armitage

10:00 Poom Saksansin (Tha), Ryosuke Kinoshita (Jpn)
10:10 Antoine Rozner (Fra), Rickie Fowler (USA)
10:20 Brendan Steele (USA), Robert MacIntyre
10:30 Harris English (USA), Sam Burns (USA)
10:40 Jason Kokrak (USA), Abraham Ancer (Mex)
10:50 Sam Horsfield , Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa)

11:05 Rory McIlroy , Richard Bland
11:15 Xander Schauffele (USA), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
11:25 Pádraig Harrington , Matthew Fitzpatrick
11:35 Kevin Streelman (USA), Lanto Griffin (USA)
11:45 Joaquin Niemann (Chi), Viktor Hovland (Nor)
11:55 Chan Kim (USA), Max Homa (USA)

12:05 Justin Thomas (USA), Adam Scott (Aus)
12:15 Kevin Kisner (USA), Billy Horschel (USA)
12:25 Matthias Schmid (Ger), Jazz Janewattananond (Tha)
12:35 Chez Reavie (USA), Aaron Rai
12:50 Lee Westwood , Jonathan Thomson
13:00 Jack Senior , Ian Poulter

13:10 Webb Simpson (USA), Tommy Fleetwood
13:20 Matt Wallace , Johannes Veerman (USA)
13:30 Sergio Garcia (Esp), Byeong-Hun An (Kor)
13:40 Justin Rose , Joel Dahmen (USA)
13:50 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Daniel Berger (USA)

14:00 Brandt Snedeker (USA), Shane Lowry
14:10 Danny Willett , Brian Harman (USA)
14:20 Cameron Smith (Aus), Corey Conners (Can)
14:35 Ryan Fox (Nzl), Tony Finau (USA)
14:45 Cameron Tringale (USA), Jon Rahm (Esp)
14:55 Brooks Koepka (USA), Mackenzie Hughes (Can)

15:05 Justin Harding (Rsa), Paul Casey
15:15 Marcel Siem (Ger), Andy Sullivan
15:25 Daniel van Tonder (Rsa), Emiliano Grillo (Arg)
15:35 Scottie Scheffler (USA), Dustin Johnson (USA)
15:45 Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Jordan Spieth (USA)
15:55 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Collin Morikawa (USA)

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