South African Louis Oosthuizen goes into the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational only one behind American Jim Furyk.
A third round 68 saw the former Open Champion move to ten under par at Firestone, and with Furyk following rounds of 63 and 66 with a level par 70, the race is well and truly on in Akron Ohio.
Oosthuizen plans to take the fight to Furyk in the final round, where tee times have been moved forward due to forecast thunderstorms, with Ernie Els’ Open Championship victory two weeks ago providing inspiration.
“I think the one thing it showed that you never give up,” Oosthuizen said of Els’ win at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where his compatriot came from four behind on the back nine.
“You never know what's going to happen in this game. I would have loved to have stayed, but afterwards I had to leave. I didn't really think that he was going to win it - I think no one did.
“It just showed you he didn't give up at all. He played really well that back nine, made birdies where all of us made bogeys. He just hung in there, and he putted beautifully.”
Of his performance today Oosthuizen added: “The front nine was rough. I just had to try to make pars, and made a silly bogey on eight, got the lie completely wrong, ended up 20 yards short of the green.
“But I felt like I hung in there pretty well, and a few opportunities for birdies I didn't make, but I started hitting the ball really well on the back nine.”
Keegan Bradley moved into third on seven under with a 67 a week before he defends his US PGA Championship title, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and another American in Steve Stricker a shot further back.
An early birdie at the long second was as good as it got for Furyk, and although he only dropped one shot all day – that came at the par three 12th – his lack of progress opened the door slightly for the chasing pack.
Nobody took advantage more than Oosthuizen, the Masters Tournament runner-up responding to a bogey at the eighth with birdies at the ninth, 12th and 16th.
“I think the golf course definitely played tougher today,” said Furyk. “We had a little bit more wind going on, the greens firmed up a little bit, and I just felt like it was a lot harder to get iron shots close to the pin.
“I thought I hit pretty good. I didn't have as many opportunities, kind of ground it out today and went out a little shaky with the putter missing the good birdie opportunities at three and five, but felt like from that point on hit a lot of good, solid putts and made a couple of good putts.
“I’m really happy with the way I stroked the ball and pretty pleased with the way I played today.”
It was a tough day for Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Two behind overnight in second place, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner ran up three double bogeys in a 77 and slipped out of the top ten.