Louis seizes lead in Durban
Louis Oosthuizen scorched his way to the top of the leaderboard with a blistering second-round of 64 that saw him reach 12-under and claim a one-stroke lead at the midway point of the Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club on Friday.
Scott Jamieson, who himself recorded a 64 on day two, lies one stroke adrift on 11-under and shares second place with first-round leader Thongchai Jaidee.
Frenchman Julien Quesne, who fired a 67, shares fourth place with Shane Lowry, Thomas Bjorn, Paul Lawrie, Jeev Milkha Singh and Danny Willett, although the group sit a further six strokes adrift at five-under.
Oosthuizen began his day at four-under, and got his round going when he holed a 15-foot putt for birdie at the par-five third hole. A fine iron shot at the fourth set up a second birdie, and three consecutive birdies from the seventh helped the 2010 Open champion to an outward nine of 31.
A quieter back nine looked to have halted his progress, and the 30 year-old missed a short birdie chance at the 16th hole. However, he responded by holing birdie putts of 45-feet and 25-feet at the 17th and 18th holes respectively to reach 12-under and lead what appears to have become a three-horse race.
“Today was much better ball-striking. I hit the ball really well, and I putted beautifully. I missed a few short ones where it just didn’t have the right line. But I seemed to have the speed of the greens, so I was able to make longer putts than usual. So it’s always nice when you know the putter is working,” Oosthuizen said after his round.
“Today my main goal was to just hit as many greens as I can. A lot of times I didn’t even go close to the pins – I just decided to hit centre greens and it worked beautifully. You get those days when the putts won’t go in and you shoot one or two-under, but today the putts went in,” he added.
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Day two offered something a little different, as the professionals took part in a pro-am, with the winning professionals receiving a Volvo sedan. Oosthuizen, who owns a farm near Mossel Bay, was victorious along with playing-partner Jaidee, and Volvo agreed to exchange Oosthuizen’s prize for the Compact Excavator EC55 that he’s coveted for the last two years.
“On the first hole Per told me that if I win the car I’ll get my excavator that I’m looking for, so I’m walking away with a nice gift for the farm. It’s going to be lot of fun next week to be playing around with it,” Oosthuizen joked.
“I've been nagging my wife for a few years that I want something on the farm - I've got a few things that I need to get rid of. And so actually I had a few discussions this week –and they said that if I make a hole in one, I can get one. Then today on the first, he told me I could get my Excavator if I win the car, so I knew that standing over the putt on 18. That's why I probably took a bit more time on that putt to get the right line.”
Jamieson clinched his maiden European Tour victory in Durban at the Nelson Mandela Championship last month, and propelled himself into contention with five birdies on his opening nine. He bogeyed the difficult 11th, but amassed four birdies after that, and, although his five-foot birdie putt at the short 18th hole lipped out, the Scot finds himself in a strong position to claim a second victory on South Africa’s east coast.
“I got off to a good start. I birdied three out of first four, and then just was very steady. I hit a lot of greens and had quite a lot of shots kind of inside 15 feet and was able to take advantage of the majority of them,” Jamieson said.
Overnight leader Jaidee quickly saw his three-stroke lead evaporate as Jamieson mounted his charge. However, he holed from off the green at the par-five eighth hole for eagle, and two further birdies on the back nine helped him to a 68.
“I played solid today, and I played solid yesterday,” the Thai noted. “It was only one hole, the ninth, where I hit it on the right side. I hit the tree and ended up in trouble so I made bogey there. But I really enjoyed it out there.”
“I’m just going to go out there and play my game. I’ve still got a good chance for the next two rounds. This course is interesting because you can shoot low, but also find yourself in trouble. It also depends on the weather, so we’ll just have to see what the winning score will be.”