Oosthuizen three off the lead at PGA
Louis Oosthuizen remains on the frontline of the battle for the PGA Championship title at Quail Hollow after a blemish-free second round catapulted the South African up the leaderboard.
Oosthuizen shot a four under 67 to move to five-under for the tournament and three shots off the lead held by American Kevin Kisner and world number one Hideki Matsuyama from Japan.
Matsuyama‚ who won last week’s WGC Bridgestone in Ohio by blasting a final round 61‚ continued his rampaging form with a blistering 64 – seven under on the day – to surge to the top of a leaderboard that also saw former world No 1 Jason Day move into contention at six-under.
The 25-year-old Japanese player recorded five birdies in his last six holes on the back nine between the 12th and 18th to announce his arrival a major force.
But listening to him speak you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d carded a 74 instead of 64.
“The best shot I hit was my tee shot at 17 and the worst shot? There were too many. I can’t count them all‚” Matsuyama told the media.
“Somehow‚ my worst shots were finding the fairway. I don’t know if it’s made a difference‚ but I did switch putters last week. It seems that carried over well this week.
“The greens here at Quail Hollow‚ as you know‚ are really fast. And there are a lot of putts that‚ honestly‚ I’m not trying to make. I’m just trying to get it up near the hole‚ and a lot of them are going in.”
Lightning and rain delayed the second round by two hours and it came at a bad time for Oosthuizen‚ who was three-under through 10 holes when the horn sounded to clear the course.
“Three behind going into any major on the weekend is a great spot‚” Oosthuizen said. “Hopefully I can follow it up with two solid rounds.
“Sometimes when you’re not playing well‚ it [a weather delay] can be a great thing. But you know‚ the way I was playing‚ I wanted to stay out there.
“But yeah‚ just had to get my mind right. I missed a fairway on my first tee shot on two (after the delay)‚ but I got lucky with a decent lie and I gave myself a good birdie opportunity. I missed the putt‚ though.
“You just need to sort of try and find that momentum that you had.”
Like Oosthuizen‚ Day has been a non-factor at the majors so far this year‚ but the Australian is now in the hunt after a five-under 66‚ which moved him within striking distance.
The course‚ with its murderously fast greens and tough pin placements‚ again had the world’s best players scratching their heads. The weather delay compounded problems for the competitors when they returned to play because the challenge changed after the soaking it received.
Day‚ the 2015 PGA Champion‚ described the battle on the slick greens.
“The greens were firm and fast at the same — it’s really hard‚ and with how the pace of play is out there‚” Day said.
“I mean‚ the guys in front of us were a hole and a bit in front‚ which is quite amazing. It just felt like we were always kind of struggling to make par. Because the pin locations were all on the spines‚ pretty much‚ that’s what it felt like‚ of the green.
“So when you try to lag a putt up there‚ if you didn’t hit it stone dead where you can tap it in‚ it was always going to either pull up short three feet or go past three feet. It was really difficult.”
Several players still have to complete their second rounds on Saturday but America’s Chris Stroud‚ at five-under after 13 holes‚ is the only player who could potentially top the leaderboard.
The cut is projected at six-over‚ which means SA’s Ernie Els (+9)‚ Branden Grace (+9) and Brandon Stone (+12) will all miss the weekend.
Richard Sterne and Charl Schwartzel both finished at two-over while Jordan Spieth’s quest to become the youngest man to win the career grand slam appears to be over. He carded a two-over 73 and is three-over for the tournament.