Oosthuizen leads strong home challenge

1/6/2012 3:53:45 PM
Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen leads an all South African top five at the halfway stage of the Africa Open after a superb display from the former Open Champion at East London Golf Club.

The defending champion was immaculate from tee to green as he recorded an 11 under par 62 – a new course record given the recent change in par from 72 to 73.

At 15 under par he leads by two from compatriots Jaco Ahlers, Thomas Aiken, Retief Goosen and Tjaart Van der Walt.

The 29 year old began the day with a birdie at the ninth, and added four further gains in a back-nine 32.

He birdied the first, and picked up another shot when he two-putted the long third after finding the green in two.

Oosthuizen almost chipped in for eagle at the fifth, the ball lipping out and leaving a simple birdie chance, before the three-time European Tour winner finally got his eagle at the next.

Having found the green at the 308 yard par four with a three wood, Oosthuizen then sunk a 50 foot putt for a two, before finishing his round with a curling 25 foot birdie putt two holes later.

“I was aggressive on the putter. I went about six foot past a few times and I had to make those for par,” said Oosthuizen. “The last one I made on the eighth would have been eight or ten foot past, but it hit the middle of the cup.

“But I was aggressive because yesterday I left a few putts short and you’re not going to hit it that far past on these greens.

On his eagle he added: “It was a lot of concentration on the tee shot because I hit the three wood in the bush yesterday. It was a three wood again off the tee, and I didn’t want to take any other club because I wanted to show myself that I can do it, because if I’d taken something else then the next day I would probably have a three wood again.

“So I hit it on the green at the back. I saw the line of the putt but I wasn’t sure so I asked my caddie and he saw exactly the same line. I hit a perfect putt and it went straight in the middle of the hole, but it was a very long putt.”

Van der Walt’s 64 included consecutive eagles – a six iron hole-in-one at the second followed by a 20 footer for a three at the par five next.

Overnight leader Aiken holed a 20 footer at first, and looked to be in contention for a share of the halfway lead when he added three further gains over the next ten holes.

The Open de España winner was only one behind when he pitched to two feet from the rough on the 15th, but after 35 blemish-free holes he caught a flyer at the last and dropped his first shot of the tournament.

Goosen chipped to a foot at the 15th and birdied last from 20 feet en route to a 68 that kept him in the hunt for a first European Tour win in five years, while Ahlers carded the same score.

While the top five spots are filled by home players, the top ten was rounded at by Europeans as Swede Magnus A Carlsson carded a 65 for 12 under and Scots Alastair Forsyth and Craig Lee and English pair Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood reached 11 under par at the halfway stage.