Golf: Louis Oosthuizen continues China charge

Louis Oosthuizen: In the lead. Picture: Getty
Louis Oosthuizen: In the lead. Picture: Getty
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Louis Oosthuizen is in familiar territory after a record-breaking performance at the HSBC-WGC Champions Tournament put him in pole position after the first two days at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China.

The 30-year-old from Mossel Bay holds a five-shot lead over Australia’s Adam Scott – and that is exactly the same advantage he had after the opening two rounds at St Andrews in 2010 on his way to winning The Open Championship.

Oosthuizen bettered the course record seven-under-par 65 he shot on Thursday with a nine-under 63 to mirror the lead he held over Mark Calcavecchia when he claimed The Open, his only major triumph to date.

“Scoreboard-wise it is probably the same, looking at the leaderboard there are so many great players up there,” said Oosthuizen after a round which included eight birdies and an eagle at the par-five seventh hole where he sank a long putt across the green.

“But it’s far from over as it was at The Open. With this tournament, I am probably in a great position to win but it has not even crossed my mind at the moment. There is still a lot of golf to be played and I need to put myself in a great position going down the back nine.”

On a course which has five par-fives, all of which offer birdie or eagle opportunities, there has been speculation the European Tour could witness its first 59-shot round.

Despite breaking the layout record twice, however, Oosthuizen remains sceptical. “I think 59 is something that when the day comes it just happens,” he said.

“I would be really surprised if I shot 59 this week. I have just been playing really solid to shoot low numbers. You know for a 59 you need everything to go in, you need everything to go right.”

Scott said making up a five-shot deficit over the weekend would be difficult with a quality player like Oosthuizen leading from the front. The Australian kept pace with Oosthuizen with four birdies in his first seven holes but then fell back with three bogeys on the back nine.

“Its tough chipping around these greens,” he said. “There are quite a lot of run-off areas and it’s tricky to judge how your shots are going to respond when you hit chip shots.”

Scott shares second place with another South African Ernie Els, who matched Oosthuizen’s second-round 63 yesterday.

Two-time former winner Phil Mickelson would have been alongside them but for a closing double bogey. He tried to play out of the hazard left of the green, but moved the ball only a few inches and after two early eagles had to settle for a 69.

As for the European Tour money list race, the absent Rory McIlroy is an even stronger favourite after Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Hanson double-bogeyed the 12th and bogeyed the 14th for a 71 that dropped him from joint third into a tie for 12th.

Having beaten McIlroy in Shanghai last Sunday, Swede Hanson needed to win again to go past the world No 1 with three weeks left, but he now has nine strokes to make up. There was at least some consolation for Hanson yesterday after he was named European Tour’s Golfer of the Month for October on the back of his BMW Masters success in Shanghai.

Joint fourth on ten under are Ireland’s Shane Lowry, bidding for a second win in three starts and a place in the world’s top 50 for the first time, and American Ryder Cup player Jason Dufner.