Louis Oosthuizen is doing his best not to think too far ahead. But then come the cheers when he steps on the first tee, and the Afrikaans banter from the fans that’s made him smile out on the course. And then he just can’t help himself.
“It would mean a lot to me to win this. In front of my home crowd, it would be special,” he said after coming through 36 holes only one shot behind Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard started the day with a four-stroke lead and looked to again be the man to set the pace as he birdied his first two holes. But he closed with two bogeys in his final three holes for a 71 at the Gary Player Country Club to still lead, but on nine under par and with Oosthuizen signing for a 67 – including a double bogey on eight – to be his nearest challenger a shot back.
Garcia’s more modest performance after his opening 64 has suddenly given a number of players hope for the weekend.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen is one of those on six under par. South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli is another on four under par.
Even Lee Westwood, who at 45 years old joked that many of the professionals in this field weren’t even born when he first won a tournament at Sun City in the 2000 Dimension Data Pro-Am, will be looking forward to Saturday’s third round, which he starts on four under.
After day one when Garcia led by four, Westwood would’ve been the calm voice in the locker-room telling the rest exactly what he knows about this golf course. “No lead is big enough around here,” he said on Friday.
But as much as he wants this, Oosthuizen is doing his best to stay in the moment. “There’s a lot of golf left. Thirty-six holes is a lot of golf.”
Even the fact that he has won on this golf course in his career isn’t giving Oosthuizen any reason to let down his guard over the weekend.
“This is a golf course where you have to be patient. You know, you can have all the course knowledge in the world here, and it’s not going to make a difference. The wind is swirling all over the place. There are tough tee shots, whether you’ve played here many times before or the first time. So I just need to stay patient.
“I need a good, solid round on Saturday. I don’t have to really attack or do anything crazy, but just need a solid round to put me in a good spot for Sunday.”
But he’ll step onto that first tee on Saturday morning, only one shot off the lead. There will be a great cheer for him. And something will be shouted in Afrikaans, which will make him smile.
“I’m very excited. I’ve got quite a few friends and family here and obviously the home crowd behind me. It should be fun.”
And dare he even think it...
“It would be special to win here.”
View Round 3 Tee-times here.