Nerveless Oosthuizen closes on maiden major

ST ANDREWS, Scotland, July 17 (Reuters) – Louis Oosthuizen  withstood everything thrown at him by the Scottish weather, a  hungry chasing pack and a testing Old Course layout to move to  the brink of a first major win at the British Open yesterday.

The South African, who missed the cut in his previous three  Opens, stood one solid round away from lifting the Claret Jug  after a composed 69 maintained a four-shot buffer at 15 under  ahead of today’s final round.

England’s Paul Casey led a charge that looked most likely to  unsettle Oosthuizen, firing a flawless 67 to match the best of  the day and go 11 under as the bids of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy  and Lee Westwood faltered.

Germany’s Martin Kaymer was third after a 68 moved him to  eight under with Westwood, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Spaniard  Alejandro Canizares one shot further back.

PREDICTED

COLLAPSE
“It’s not every day you play in the final group leading the  Open championship. I’m going to try and do my own thing,” said  Oosthuizen, who got a phone call of encouragement from fellow  South African and three-times Open winner Gary Player before his  round.    Ever since Oosthuizen carded a 67 on Friday and the fierce  winds scattered his rivals asunder, the cynics have been waiting  for his lack of experience at the business end of majors to  show, but the implacable 27-year-old from Mossel Bay has had  none of it.

Even after an opening hole bogey the predicted collapse  never came and Oosthuizen seemed to relish the task of defying  expectation.

He picked up birdies at the seventh and ninth and parred six  straight holes before producing a moment of magic on the 16th  green which, as with many of the putting surfaces here, is  shared with another hole.

Oosthuizen puffed his cheeks out in frustration when his  second shot ended up closer to the second hole flag and some 60  feet away from his intended target.

Getting down in two seemed the best outcome, but he rolled  an immaculate putt straight into the hole for the most  unexpected of birdies.

DEVILISHLY

DIFFICULT
He parred the devilishly difficult Road hole before an  inspired drive at the 18th gave him a 15ft-putt for an eagle and  the chance to re-establish the five-shot lead with which he  started the day.

He dragged the putt right but had an easy tap-in for birdie  and the tournament is now his to lose.

“Tomorrow I’m probably going to do pretty much the same and  just go out there, hit shot for shot, and never get ahead of  myself,” he said.

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