Oosthuizen rallies to share 54-hole lead with Van der Walt in Africa Open

louis oosthuizen
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Louis Oosthuizen opened his third round with three straight birdies and closed with birdies on three of his final four holes.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, January 07, 2012 | 1:25 p.m.

Defending champion and overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen birdied three of his last four holes for a 6-under 67 Saturday to share the third-round lead at the Africa Open. The tournament, co-sanctioned with southern Africa’s Sunshine Tour, is the first event on the 2012 European Tour schedule.

Oosthuizen and Tjaart van der Walt (65) were tied at 21 under overall, one shot ahead of 2009 winner and two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (66).

AFRICA OPEN

The 2012 European Tour kicks off this week at the Africa Open and concludes Nov. 22-25 in Dubai.

Van der Walt birdied the first four holes at the par-73 East London Golf Club and had nine in his round, offset by one bogey. Van der Walt, who turned professional in 1996, has yet to win a tournament.

Goosen, shooting into a wind on his approach to 18, landed in a greenside bunker to finish with par. Oosthuizen and Van der Walt each made birdies to take the lead.

On a topsy-turvy day, Oosthuizen started his round with three straight birdies but could not match his pace of Friday, when he vaulted into the lead with a stunning 62. A bogey at the 11th saw him falling into the clutches of the chasing pack before a late recovery left him in a tie with countryman van der Walt.

Afterward, Oosthuizen was left to reflect on the mistake on the 11th that cost him the overall lead.

"It was an elementary mistake, really," he said. "Those little chip-outs seem easy, and I made the basic error of leaving it short of a tree for my approach to the green."

Van der Walt birdied the opening four holes and, despite bogeying the eighth when he took a penalty, made the turn at 5 under par before three more birdies, including one at the 18th, saw him take the outright lead before Oosthuizen completed his late fightback. Van der Walt remains bullish in his battle with bigger names at the top of the leaderboard.

"At the end of the day, the golf ball doesn't know that they are major champions," he said. "I've played at the highest level, I've never won majors or big events, so who knows what can happen.

"I do feel as if I am controlling the golf ball as well as I have in a long time," he explained. "Not just tee to green, but on the greens as well. And that's a good sign for me.

"I'm entitled to forget the one bad shot I hit all day . I hit a bad tee shot, but luckily for me I was able to get a good drop on line of sight. I managed to get it on the green and almost made the putt."

He was not the only man to enjoy at least a brief spell above Oosthuizen before the day was complete.

England's Danny Willett was enjoying an outstanding day with five birdies on the opening nine and four more on the way back giving him the lead before a bogey on the ninth. He went round in 65 to sit tied for fourth, one shot behind Goosen, whose drama-free 66 left him on 20 under par.

Richard Sterne enjoyed the best round of the day with an eagle on the 11th highlighting his scorecard as he signed for a 9-under 64 to move up to fifth place, four shots behind the leaders.

Thomas Aiken, who led after an opening round of 64, endured a rough day and fell into a tie for ninth place as he could only manage a round of 72.