South African Louis Oosthuizen has assumed control of the ISPS Handa Perth International with a third round 67 and will take a three-stroke lead into the final day.
BY BRENDAN JAMES at LAKE KARRINYUP CC
SOUTH African Louis Oosthuizen has assumed control of the ISPS Handa Perth International with a third round 67 and will take a three-stroke lead into the final day.
The 33-year-old led by as many as five shots during the round but a loss of concentration on Lake Karrinyup's tough 16th hole, brought about by what he described as an unfair pin position, led to two quick bogies.
“I lost a bit of concentration on 16,” Oosthuizen said as he rubbed his face. “I was worrying a bit too much on where the pin position was. It was a bit of a … I can't say it was a fair pin position on 16. It was right on a slope and there's no way you can really do anything to that hole.
“It (the bogey) was just a lack of thinking of other things than what I'm supposed to do, and you know, raced the first one past, and then just didn't take my time on the return putt.
“So on 17, that (loss of concentration) probably went over to 17, not doing what I do on the tee shot, working out where the best spot is and just miscued it a little bit and left myself with an awkward little pitch shot.
“So those things happen. As long as it's not happening when you're tied with the lead three holes to go,” he smiled.
His bogies at 16 and 17 were just his second and third dropped shots of the tournament, with his first bogey being a distant memory back on the 2nd hole on Thursday morning.
Despite the late round fumble, Oosthuizen is in the driver’s seat to win for the first time in more than two years, having last grabbed silverware in the Volvo Champions tournament in South Africa in January 2014. His last victory outside his homeland was the Malaysian Open in 2013.
“I think anyone will expect to win but there’s a lot of golf to be played,” he said. “You still need to hit the shots, around this golf course especially.
“Someone can go out and go three or four under in the first five holes and it changes everything.
“So I need to play good tomorrow, solid golf, give myself a lot of birdie opportunities like I did today, and there’s not much more you can do then.”
And he’s quietly confident his game is at a level where he can win.
“I played pretty solid the last two rounds,” he said. “I drove it beautifully.
“Today was not great off the tee, but iron play was pretty good. The putter is behaving. I'm reading the greens very good and I feel like I'm making great strokes … yeah, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
The 2010 Open Champion will be hoping to emulate fellow South African’s Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who have both hoisted trophies at Lake Karrinyup. Goosen (2002) and Els (2003) were victorious by eight and 10 shots respectively in the now-defunct Johnnie Walker Classic.
Oosthuizen will play alongside Frenchman Romain Wattel, who carded a flawless seven under 65, to move to 12 under and a share of second place with American Peter Uihlein.
Uihlein, who led through each of the first two rounds, had six birdies in his 71 but a disastrous triple-bogey six at the short downhill par-3 12th hole saw him make a dramatic fall down the leaderboard.
Having missed the green with a short iron, the 26-year-old was faced with a chip shot up a steep slope. He chunked the shot twice before getting his fourth onto the putting surface and two putting for a six.
“I tell you what, it's the hardest hole in golf I think. I've missed that green all three days,” Uihlein said.
“Yeah, it's such a great hole, really, it really is. Any time you have a short iron, that steep of an elevation change and crosswind, you don't need a 220-yard par-3 for it to be difficult. That's hard enough.
“I kind of dragged my club a little bit. So I hit a bit of a pressure fade and it rode the wind, and instead I was trying to hold against it, and so flew it probably two yards too far and hit on the downslope. Then I just kept chunking it around, so I kept having a great old time.”
Local hope Jason Scrivener (69) is in outright fourth after a solid three under 69, while fellow West Australian Brett Rumford (73) is a shot further back in fifth. Rumford, who began the third round with a share of the lead, got off to a nervous start and was three over through the first nine holes, which dropped him will off the pace.
Another bogey at the 13th hole followed and Rumford’s run looked done and dusted. How this game can change in a flash!
The 38-year-old holed a bunker shot for eagle at the par-4 14th and nearly provided the shot of the tournament when his second shot approach into the par-5 15th trickled up to the hole and glanced off the flagstick before coming to rest four feet away. He converted the eagle putt to pick up four shots in two holes and play his way back into the tournament.
“I was hitting some nice shots. No putts went in. It was just, the game unfortunately just turned on me, which is golf. That's golf. That's the game. That's why we love it,” Rumford shrugged.
“So, tomorrow, I'm not going to change a thing. Just going to do everything exactly the same. I tried to be as patient as I could, but every bad shot that I hit, it got absolutely punished and punished properly.
Rumford will be in an all-Australian pairing alongside Marcus Fraser, who lit the course up with his putter en route to shooting a seven under 65 earlier in the day.