Oosthuizen stays in touch with US Open lead

Louis Oosthuizen said he would have preferred to sleep in a little longer on Friday, but, after tidying things up on the remaining two holes of his first round, he carded a level-par 71 to stay just one shot off the pace at the halfway stage of the US Open Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.

Oosthuizen trails surprise first-round leaders Richard Bland of England and Russell Henley of the United States. He made two bogeys before hitting the home stretch – on the sixth and the 11th – and he regained those shots with birdies on the 14th and 18th.

“I’d rather have had an hour more sleep,” said Oosthuizen of his early start. “I’m glad I didn’t have to make those putts last night with greens being a lot bumpier in the afternoon. That was one of the reasons I didn’t want to hit that long putt yesterday, but it was probably a bit faster this morning than it would have been last night, but I couldn’t see anything last night.”

While he didn’t reproduce the sparkle of his opening round of four-under, he kept himself in the tournament on a course that can very quickly take things away. “Every time I hit a good tee shot, I didn’t hit a good second and always had to fight to sort of make pars,” said Oosthuizen. “I said to my caddie, let’s see if we can somehow get two back playing those last four or five holes. Made a nice putt on 14 after it was just a gap wedge in there. I pulled it and got lucky with making the putt. But it was a good birdie on 18.”

Behind Oosthuizen, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Branden Grace got themselves into contention with a one-under-par 70 each. That moved them into a share of 13th on level-par for the championship, five off the pace.

Charl Schwartzel carded a three-over 74 to go three-over at halfway in a share of 41st together with Dylan Frittelli who signed for a one-over 72. Also in 41st are four Masters champions in Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.

Wilco Nienaber seemed to have it going with two birdies and a bogey on his front nine, but two more bogeys on his homeward nine saw him sign for a three-over 74. He made the cut and averaged a staggering 361.1 yards off the tee – nearly 30 yards further than Bryson DeChambeau.

Erik van Rooyen and Garrick Higgo missed the cut by one and two shots respectively, while Thomas Aiken finished at 11-over.

For Oosthuizen, however, there’s a weekend’s work ahead. “I still need to get myself in a good spot on Sunday, and hopefully then I’m going to have a good day,” he said. “On this golf course, there’s a lot of things that can go sideways quickly. So you need to keep focus and play well, and be calm. With a US Open, I know you’ve got to be so patient. So just knowing that everyone is going to make mistakes, just try and do as well as you can.”

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