Oosthuizen rounds up bulls and birdies
|Louis Oosthuizen may have been responsible for a riot of baby bulls escaping his fields in South Africa a couple of weeks ago but, here at Mission Hills, he has let nothing get away. At the half-way stage of the WGC-HSBC Champions, the 2010 Open champion is 16 under par - he had rounds of 65 and 63 - and five ahead of Adam Scott and Ernie Els.|
Thoroughly well organised though he is as a golfer, Oosthuizen, the farmer, paved the way for the bulls' mass exodus when he left a gate unlatched. As one who purchased a prize bull with his Open championship earnings, he was not too frightened by the rebellious youngsters. He gave chase and eventually shepherded them back to base though, even last week, he was feeling stiff and sore.
The five par fives have been his forte so far this week. He was six under for the quintet on Thursday and five under in his follow-up round. Yet the second batch of birdies were not all exactly straightforward...
In pinning down his fours at the ninth and the eleventh he was bunkered both times - greenside at the ninth and off the tee two holes later.
Fond though he is of Mission Hills's longer holes, he indicated that the second at Augusta, scene of his albatross at this year's Masters, has to be his favourite par-five. "That albatross was the highlight of my year," he said. His four-iron to the green, which has been played over and over on TV, was never heading for anywhere other than the hole. Scores of 65 and 63 over the Olazabal course have set people thinking as to what Oosthuizen might do next. Could he have a 59 in him?
The suggestion made him laugh. So much had gone right in his second round that he doubted whether too much more could have gone his way. He says he will not be thinking of breaking 60 any more than he will be dwelling on how he seems perfectly poised to win, "I'm in a grand position but there are so many great players up there that it's far from over."
Ernie Els did not mind admitting that he was thinking "59" when he turned in 29. "That number was crossing my mind," he chuckled, "but I didn't quite make the putts coming in."
Branden Grace may not be at his best this week but he has won four times this year and there is no question that the South African players are all making a good fist of feeding off each other at the moment.
They are as every bit close as the European contingent but when, the other day, Els was asked if he thought things had reached the point where South Africans might have the beating of a European Ryder Cup side, he was not so sure.
"On paper, we could produce a team which would look very strong but so could a lot of other countries. I don't think, though, that we could match the Europeans in a team situation because they seem to find an extraordinary something extra when it matters. They're great team players"
Phil Mickelson got himself into one of the more interesting scrapes of the day. He was set to finish alongside Els and Scott when he pushed his second on to the cliff below the 18th green.
Everyone expects the miraculous when the American reaches for his wedge but, on this occasion, he barely made contact with the ball at the first time of asking. Next time around he made the green but the ensuing double-bogey dragged him down into a share of sixth place with Dustin Johnson.
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