There was a point in Saturday’s third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player when Louis Oosthuizen’s caddie, Wynand, told him exactly what he needed to hear. And those words are what kept Oosthuizen within touch of Sergio Garcia as they head into the final round of “Africa’s Major”.
“It was a struggle the whole way around for me,” Oosthuizen said after a 72 that puts him within two shots of Garcia’s lead on 10 under par. “Wynand just said to me to keep my head and make pars, because it’s one of those days”.
For 17 holes it was a grind for Oosthuizen. And then he made birdie on 18 as Garcia bogeyed, and the South African could finally smile after a frustrating day.
“These are the rounds you take a lot of positives out of. If you don't play well and you're still in it to win. The birdie on the last was a big momentum builder for me going into the final round. Being two behind is a lot better than four behind. But yeah, it was a tough day.”
Garcia felt much the same after a day in which he at one stage opened up a four-stroke lead.
“The course is playing tough. I felt like I probably didn’t get much out of my round,” said the man who has led from day one, and who still looks very hard to beat.
“I’m just going to keep trying to do the same thing. I know the course is going to be playing tough again. I’m going to go out and try to shoot under par like I’ve done all three days. I think if I can manage to shoot somewhere in the 60s, maybe 70 might be enough.”
Considering the tough pin placements of Saturday and the swirling wind that keeps plaguing both player and caddie alike, Garcia would just need a solid final day and could still be very hard to catch. After Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Thomas Detry and Mikko Korhonen are all also chasing Garcia on seven under par.
But Oosthuizen is as driven to claim this title as he’s ever been, and even more so with the strong local support he’s had this week.
“It was good seeing everyone out there. There was a lot of home support, and I’m glad I could make the birdie on the last for them. I enjoy playing with the leader. It’s what we play for to be in that spot, playing in the last group on a Sunday. I just need to go out and fire at pins and hopefully have a good round.”
Follow the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player on: