Struggling Oosthuizen hangs on in PGA Championship

And, just like that on Saturday, Louis Oosthuizen’s game left him battling to stay in contention during the final round of the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. It’s testimony to his grit that he is still in the mix.

He signed for a level-par 72 to go into the final round on five-under-par for the tournament. That’s just two behind Phil Mickelson and one behind Brooks Koepka. It’s one ahead of Kevin Streelman, and two ahead of countrymen Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Branden Grace.

It should have been so much better. “That was probably the worst I’ve played in a while,” said Oosthuizen. “Especially the first 10 holes going along with Phil hitting it beautifully and playing great, I was all over the place. I could sense early on that I wasn’t on song, especially I felt a move in my driver that I didn’t like, and from there it wasn’t good.”

He started with a bogey on the first, and there was a sense that every hole after that was a battle. But he made birdie on the par-three eighth when he hit his tee shot to inside seven feet, and that seemed to spark something for a while. Putts of eight feet and 10 feet went in on 11 and 12 which indicated that the ship had been righted.

But then he shoved his tee shot on 13 into the water, and the struggle was on again. “Look, to me, it felt way earlier than that that I was all over the place,” he said. “I wasn’t really surprised with hitting a bad tee shot on 13. I was just sort of fighting to stay in it, and you know, at the end there, started judging the greens wrong and everything just fell apart.”

He was lucky to get away with bogey on 13, and another dropped shot on 17 when he missed a putt from inside six feet saw him finish on five-under. “Phil hit two bad tee shots and cost him three shots,” said Oosthuizen. “Other than that, he played beautifully. He putted well. He drove it unbelievably long and straight. I think we all got lucky that he came backwards into the field.”

Bezuidenhout and Grace also battled, and will also feel lucky going into the final round, especially as they will be playing together on Sunday. They both carded level-par 72s, and, like Oosthuizen, there were flashes in their play that showed they can still pull off a win.

Behind them, Daniel van Tonder got it to three-under for the third round by the eighth, and looked as if he’d be challenging for the title on the final day. But then five bogeys saw him slip to two-over for the round. He’s on three-over for the tournament in a share of 38th.

Dean Burmester carded his third successive 74 to be six-over after 54 holes, and Garrick Higgo signed for a six-over 78 to be 11-over.

For Oosthuizen, there were signs that things could turn around in the final round. “In the middle of the round, I hit a few good shots, and the good thing is I know what I’m doing wrong,” he said. “I just need to go and fix it. It’s tough to fix it on the golf course, especially with lots of trouble all over the place.

“All in all, two behind going into Sunday, I’ve got to take a lot of positives out of that with the way I was playing today.”

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