Oosthuizen soaks up record round -- but one round still remains

September 02, 2012
Larry Dorman, PGATOUR.COM

NORTON, Mass. -- The key things to know about Louis Oosthuizen roaring across TPC Boston on Sunday, tearing up the front nine in a tournament-record 29 strokes, birdieing seven consecutive holes in a round of 63 that gave him a three-stroke lead after 54 holes of the Deutsche Bank Championship?

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The soft-spoken South African sent a very loud message with his play. He stunned the huge galleries by passing Rory McIlroy and holding off Tiger Woods and was, as would be expected, light-hearted and almost jovial, when it was over. The 2010 British Open champion, still looking for his first win in the U.S., hit the most greens, worked his irons closer to the hole than anyone in the field, putted like a dream and sounded like he had a lot left in the tank.

"Probably the start anyone would dream of on that front nine," he said in the clipped South African accent of his homeland. "I made everything. You get those days where you just look at a putt and you hole it. That was my front nine."

His back nine included two birdies and one bogey -- just his second of the tournament. For someone playing in the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time, Oosthuizen is off to a rousing start at 19-under-par 194. After a tie for fifth last week, he is in his best position yet to win in America.

But third-round leads, no matter how large, do not daunt the top players in the world. Those chasing Oosthuizen -- particularly the No. 1-ranked golfer in the official World Golf Rankings and the former No. 1 in both that ranking and the FedExCup points list -- were not the least bit shaken.

"Louis is the sort of player that can do that," said McIlroy, who led by one stroke starting the day and trailed by three after his 67. "He's very explosive, and he didn't really put a foot wrong today. Very impressive round by him."

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McIlroy paused for a breath and added, "And very happy with my round, and very happy that I am still in touching distance going into tomorrow."

Woods, who began the day two behind McIlroy and trailed Oosthuizen by six at dusk, was of the same mind. He shot a decent round of 68 that could have been two strokes better. Nice going, Louis. See you tomorrow.

"In conditions like this it's obviously gettable," Woods said of the golf course, referring to the 63s posted by Oosthuizen and, earlier in the day, by Keegan Bradley. "Hopefully tomorrow I can go out there and see one of those rounds."

Woods, who birdied just one of the three par 5s in his round, is closing in on the form he'll need to add another victory to the three he already has this season. He was drawing on memories of the 63 he shot in 2006 to chase down Vijay Singh, who led by three. It was his fifth straight win that year. He knows the key.

"You have a short par-four for the first hole and driver and kind of a short or mid-iron into the (par-five) second hole," Woods said. "And you can drive the (par-four) fourth. You've got to get off to a quick start, at least get some momentum going. I did it once before against Vijay here, so maybe I can do it again."

As Woods was speaking, standing outside the scoring trailer beneath the gathering clouds that rolled in late in the day, McIlroy walked up behind the semi-circle of reporters who were interviewing Woods. He took out his iPhone, held it up like a tape recorder, and said, "Maybe I should record this."

Woods, cracked a smile and waved at McIlroy, who was laughing.

"I'm going to have to put together one of those rounds," Woods said. "It won't surprise me if someone shoots 8-or-9-under tomorrow because of where the pin locations are. Somebody is going to go out there and do it. It may be early, it may be late, who knows?

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"But hopefully I am one of those guys."

Any time Woods is in the mix, near the lead, chasing a couple of guys in their 20s and talking like that after 54 holes, the possibilities for fireworks are very real. And don't rule out the guy who set the pace on Sunday. Oosthuizen once shot a round of 57 at a course near his birthplace of Mossel Bay, South Africa.

He had a realistic chance to shoot in the 50s on Sunday, but he wasn't putting nearly as well on the back nine as the front and pretty much put the thought out of his mind after he failed to make a 12-footer at the 11th, an 11-footer at the 12th and a 17-footer at the 14th. Later he joked about how tough it was just as well because it would have been tough to go low again Monday after shooting 50-something.

"So I'm happy with my 8-under today," he said.

But not too comfortable. Woods already pointed out his 63 to catch Singh in '06. McIlroy shot a final-round 62 at a tough Quail Hollow Course to come from off the pace for his first U.S. victory in 2009, overtaking, among others, Phil Mickelson. And Sunday McIlroy shot 32 coming in. Dustin Johnson wants a Ryder Cup spot and is fully capable of another 65.

"You know, it's three shots tomorrow," Oosthuizen said. "I think it'll be a good day."

How could it not?