Friday, 02 November 2012
Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen finds himself in familiar territory at the halfway stage of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

The 30 year old won the 2010 Open Championship from five shots clear after two rounds at St Andrews, and a course record 63 at Mission Hills saw the South African establish another commanding halfway lead.

The Masters Tournament runner-up’s nine under par round – matched an hour later by compatriot Ernie Els – took him to 16 under in Shenzhen.

Els and first round joint-leader Adam Scott are his nearest challengers five shots back, but Oosthuizen is not taking anything for granted heading into the weekend.

“Scoreboard-wise, it's probably the same [as St Andrews],” said the World Number 11. “Looking at the leaderboard, there's so many great players up there. Like I said, it's far from over. It was probably the same at The Open.

“With this tournament I'm in a great position to win it, but it's not even crossed my mind at the moment. There's still a lot of golf to be played, and I need to put myself in a great position going down the back nine on Sunday.”

Starting the day level with Australian Scott, Oosthuizen picked up six shots in five holes around the turn to take control of the event.

Having initially dropped back with a bogey at the second, birdies at the third and fifth steadied the ship before the five-time European Tour winner’s putter caught fire; a 50 footer for eagle at the seventh and 30 foot birdie effort at the next both dropping.

Oosthuizen birdied the long ninth and followed that with a 35 foot effort at the tenth, before tapping in for another gain at the long 11th and picking up further shots with six foot putts at the 15th and 16th.

“I played the par fives really well, and I think I was six under on them today,” he added.

“The rest was down to putting really well. I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie, and hitting fairways, hitting greens, and if you make the putts, you shoot a low number. 

“The par fives, I think I can reach all of them, which makes it easy; if you're hitting it well just get yourself around the green. I really didn't make a lot of eagle putts - I just was really close to the green, which led to getting up-and-down and I hit really good chips on a few today for some tap ins for birdie. 

“You get those days where if you hit it well, you leave yourself in a decent spot for a chip-and-putt for a birdie on the par fives.” 

This year’s Open runner-up Scott added a 68 and was joined in second place when the man who pipped him to the Claret Jug matched his compatriot's course record.

Making his return from an ankle injury that forced him out of last week's PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda - replacement Padraig Harrington won it - Els threatened to go even lower when he turned in a seven under 29.

The 43 year old added further birdies at the 12th and 14th, hitting approaches to within two feet of the flag, and kept a bogey off his card for the second day running.

“I obviously had a good start and all of that, but I wish I can always play like that,” said Els. 

“I'm just glad to be here; after going down on the tennis court two weeks ago to stand here and shoot 63 is quite a bonus.”

Scott was keeping pace early on with five birdies in the first 11 holes, but he bogeyed the next two and after coming back with two more birdies he came up short of the green at the 197 yard 17th and dropped another shot.

That was not as bad as the finishes of Phil Mickelson or Masters Tournament Champion Bubba Watson, however.

After eagles at the third and seventh - and three birdies - Mickelson was alongside Scott, but then came a missed four foot putt at the 14th and after that bogey worse was to come on the last.

Twice winner of the title in Shanghai, Mickelson pushed his second to the last into the hazard and in attempting to hack it out from amongst the rocks moved the ball only a matter of inches.

The next found the green, but a double bogey six meant a 69 and dropped him to sixth place.

Joint fourth are Ireland's Shane Lowry, bidding for a second win in three starts and a place in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 for the first time, and American Ryder Cup player Jason Dufner, but they are six strokes behind.

Watson, who beat Oosthuizen in a play-off at Augusta in April, was in a tie for seventh until he put two balls in the water for a triple bogey eight at the reachable 15th.

Last week's winner Peter Hanson fell back as well in a blow to his hopes of a victory that would take him ahead of Rory McIlroy at the top of The Race to Dubai.

The Swede double-bogeyed the 12th after seeing a chip come back down a bank at the front of the green and let another shot go at the 14th in a 71 that left him nine back.

Lowry said: "I didn't birdie two easy par fives and made a bad bogey on the sixth, but other than that I played lovely all day and gave myself a lot of chances.

"What's not to enjoy? I'm playing a World Golf Championship and I'm up there in the top five going into the weekend."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T2DUFNER, JasonUSA18-19
T2PIERCY, ScottUSA18-19
T2ELS, ErnieRSA18-19
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