There were no mistakes from Louis Oosthuizen on Saturday as he charged up the leaderboard in the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open with an eight-under-par 63.
The 2010 Open champion made eight birdies in a bogey-free round to move to 14-under-par for the tournament, four shots back from Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele, and in a share of fifth place together with Justin Thomas. Scottie Scheffler and Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee share third on 15-under, three off the pace.
Oosthuizen’s performance revolved around three areas of his game which he has improved as the tournament has progressed: His average distance off the tee went up over 300 yards for the first time in round three to 306.8 yards, his driving accuracy was way up to 85.71 percent, and his percentage of greens hit in regulation was 83.33 percent. Those figures all set him up for a much-simplified scoring game, and he was able to make some good putts on his way to the 63.
Spieth’s game has finally clicked into the highest gear again, as it was when he rose to the very summit of the game with three major championship victories from 2015 to 2017.
“I’m excited about the position I’m in,” said Spieth, whose third-round 61 equalled his career low on the PGA Tour. “I don’t have – I’ll be nervous, but not because I feel extra pressure to have to do anything. Just because I haven’t been in the last group holding the lead in a while.”
The last time he played in the final group in the final round was the 2018 Open Championship – with Schauffele. A win on Sunday would come three years, six months and 15 days since Spieth won the 2017 Open Championship. Of his three made cuts in seven starts this season, his best result was a share of 38th at the CJ Cup last October.
Oosthuizen has never won a PGA Tour tournament (although The Open does count as a PGA Tour event), but he does have eight runner-up finishes to his credit amongst the 35 times he’s finished in the top 10.
With the bit between his teeth, this could be the one that changes all that.