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April 6 2012

6:45 PM

Tough start, nice finish for Oosthuizen

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Louis Oosthuizen discusses strategy with his caddie, Wynand Stander, during Friday's second round.

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Five holes into his second round, Louis Oosthuizen was licking his wounds. He double bogeyed the second hole, and followed a birdie at the third with consecutive bogeys. His name was no longer on the front page of the leaderboard. It was cold and windy and nothing was going right.

But once he reached the back nine, the sun came out ... and Oosthuizen started to shine. After getting through Amen Corner unscathed, the South African posted three birdies in his final five holes to post an even-par 72 that keeps him at 4 under for the tournament heading into the weekend.

"Looked at the scores and the guys made birdies starting the first five holes, some of them were 3 under," Oosthuizen said, "and I was 3 over. So I knew I just needed to hang on."

It's a credit that Oosthuizen was able to do just that on a course in which he hasn't particularly fared well until this week. In three previous starts in the Masters, Oosthuizen had failed to make the cut, with his best round being a 1-over 73.

But the 2010 British Open winner felt good about his game coming into this week, especially after finishing third at last week's Shell Houston Open. Oosthuizen held the 54-hole lead and used that as a positive building block instead of dwelling on the lead he lost in the final round.

He used that confidence late in his round. A 9-iron off the tee at the par-3 16th left him a 4-foot birdie putt, then he used an 8-iron for his approach shot at the 17th to set up a 5-foot putt.

"I've never come into this tournament playing really well," he said. "This is probably the first one I came in feeling confident, the way i swing it and the way I'm hitting the ball. So it makes a huge difference."

And now, not only has he made the cut, he's also in good shape to claim the second major of his career.

"You know, it's a weird spot for me to be in, to be third at the moment," said Oosthuizen after glancing at the leaderboard. "I normally was busy changing tickets back home (after missing the cut)."

This year, he gets to stay a few extra days.

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