Louis Oosthuizen admitted to enjoying the American August heat during the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as he played himself into contention at Firestone Country Club.
As temperatures soared into the mid-90s in north-west Ohio on Friday, the South African kept his cool to plot his way to a five under par 65 that left him within three shots of overnight leader Jim Furyk heading into the weekend.
With the American consolidating his first round lead with a second day 66 to stay one clear of Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Oosthuizen climbed six places up the leaderboard into third place thanks to an unblemished round that featured four birdies in his last eight holes.
After gaining a shot at the tenth – his opening hole of the day – The 2010 Open Champion made nine consecutive pars before a second birdie of the round came at the par five second. Oosthuizen made it two in succession at the third after holing a 35ft birdie putt before further birdies at the sixth and closing ninth helped the Mossel Bay man into contention with 36 holes to play in Akron.
“It’s nice playing in this type of weather,” said Oosthuizen, whose best finish at Firestone came with a tied ninth place in his maiden appearance in 2010. “I played nicely. I missed a few shots but made good up and downs on a few holes. But I played really well in general; I drove it well and made nice putts.
“I still struggled to get the lines and speeds right and I think speeds on these greens are crucial. You can get really fast putts and I think once you get uphill putts you have to be careful not to hit it by. But I'm very happy with the two rounds.”
Oosthuizen scrambled well all day on Friday, getting up and down five times over his round, while his green play was prodigious as the 29 year old made 15 out of 15 putts within ten feet on day two.
His moment of the day came at the final hole, though, as from a shade under 60ft away he drained a sublime birdie putt from just off the green at the ninth.
“It was right up against the fringe and decided on putting it,” he said. “I was still upset with the second shot that I hit it that far short but the minute it left the face I knew it had a good speed so I hoped it had got a good line and in the end it went perfect.”
With the US PGA Championship next week at Kiawah Island, much of the talk at Firestone this week has been looking ahead to the final Major Championship of the season, but Oosthuizen insisted he was keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the present.
He reflected: “I’m not really thinking of next week yet, I’m just focussing on this week. I’m working a bit with a coach and getting the game right.
“These WGC tournaments are the next ones in line of any Major, so this week is just as big for me. I would just like to have a good week this week and know that I'm playing well going into next week at Kiawah.”