Louis Oosthuizen looks to overcome close calls on Sunday at The Open
July 17, 2021
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- Louis Oosthuizen held the 54-hole lead at The Open. (Getty Images)
SANDWICH, England – They call him King Louis but of late he’s been more of a prince.
Come Sunday at The 149th Open Championship, Louis Oosthuizen has the chance to earn the title once more, fittingly at Royal St. George’s, where he takes a one-shot lead into the final round.
Legend has it that Saint George tamed and slayed a dragon. Oosthuizen’s proverbial dragon is his near misses.
Since winning the 2010 Open at St. Andrews, Oosthuizen has finished second in six majors and THE PLAYERS Championship without winning another PGA TOUR event. Two of those close calls happened in the last two majors – the PGA Championship in May and the U.S. Open in June.
On both of those occasions, poor shots into hazards late in the championship proved very costly. But he won’t let those scars affect his fight.
“Finishing second isn't great, so I will play my heart out tomorrow and see if I can lift the Claret Jug again,” Oosthuizen said. “You're not going to do something silly with taking the impossible shot on, but if there is opportunity to be more aggressive when you need to, you've got to do it if you want a win a championship.”
A third round 1-under 69 moved the South African to 12 under for the week, his third straight lead. Open debutant Collin Morikawa (68) is just a shot behind with 2017 Open Champion Jordan Spieth (69) is third at 9 under. Corey Conners (66) and Scottie Scheffler (69) may have dragon slaying ideas of their own starting four back while Jon Rahm is not out the running just yet at seven under.
That’s plenty more dragons to slay for Oosthuizen.
“All of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that's going to be in your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it,” he said. “Once we get on the golf course, it's all golf.
"You need to believe that you can lift the trophy, as well, and if you think about it beforehand that you might win this championship, I think that's great, and you have to believe you can do it.”
His nearest challenger in Morikawa is looking to slay history. No player in the long history of golf has won two different majors on their first try. The 2020 PGA Champion has that chance.
The 24-year-old showed great composure to rebound from falling four shots back early Saturday. His win at Harding Park came when he burst out of a stacked and packed leaderboard. But this is a new beast, mainly as there are fans, and the added pressure that provides.
“I'm going to try and keep it as similar as possible to every other tournament I've played.
Hopefully trust the process and just be committed with that,” Morikawa said.
“The biggest thing I can draw from the PGA is just knowing I can get it done. But I think confidence just comes from hitting good shots, quality shots, seeing putts go in. There is a lot to draw from, especially this week.
“I don't have much experience on links golf, and pretty much all the highlights in my head are from this week. Thankfully there is quite a few. Hopefully we can just use that momentum from the first three days and just bring it into the last 18. It's going to be a grueling 18, but I look forward to it. It's the position you want to be in.”
And what of Spieth’s dragons? Well it may be more like demons after a costly finish to the third round.
The former FedExCup champion gave up back-to-back bogeys on the last two holes from great position in the fairway to fall three back. The first from a poor wedge shot, the second via a three-putt from 20-feet.
He’s only managed to come behind to win in two of his 12 PGA TOUR victories.
And we can’t discount Conners, Scheffler or even fellow non-major winners MacKenzie Hughes (-7), Dylan Frittelli (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Justin Harding (-6) or Marcel Siem (-6) given the last two champions at St. George’s were long shots Ben Curtis and Darren Clarke.
The last 20 Open winners have come from the top nine on the leaderboard with a round to play. Only one can be the dragon slayer. Who you got?