Louis Oosthuizen sets 36-hole Open record, leads by 2 strokes
SANDWICH, England — Louis Oosthuizen set a 36-hole record at The Open and is halfway to ending that run of near misses at the majors.
He’ll have to hold off a cast of major champions on the weekend at Royal St. George’s.
On a day of pleasant summer weather that took the fear out of the links off Sandwich Bay, Oosthuizen broke away from a three-way tie with a birdie-birdie-eagle run from the 12th hole. He shrugged off his first bogey of the week for a 5-under 65 and a 2-stroke lead on Friday.
Former PGA champion Collin Morikawa had a 64 and was 2 shots behind.
Another shot back was Jordan Spieth (67), going after his fourth major.
Lurking was two-time major champion Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, who shot 65.
Oosthuizen was at 11-under 129, breaking the 36-hole Open record first set by Nick Faldo in 1992 at Muirfield and matched by Brandt Snedeker in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
This will be the fifth time in the last nine rounds at a major that Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion at St. Andrews, has had at least a share of the lead. He was runner-up at the past two majors, to Phil Mickelson at the the PGA Championship in May and to Jon Rahm the U.S. Open last month.
“I’m not really going to think about the second spots,” said Oosthuizen, when asked what he’ll do differently this time. “I know my game is in a good place.”
He’ll also be aware of the quality of player behind him, though.
Morikawa, making quite a debut in links golf, made seven birdies in his first 14 holes as part of a clinic in iron play. He missed a 5-foot par putt on No. 15 and had a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole catch the lip.
Spieth, four shots behind when he teed off, was tied for the lead after 12 holes and then played the last six holes in 1 over.
Then there was Johnson, a runner-up at Royal St. George’s in 2011, who stuck his approach at the last to 3 feet for a birdie and a round of 65, which left him tied for fourth place at 7 under with Dylan Frittelli of South Africa (67) and Scottie Scheffler (66).
One shot behind an eclectic mix of players at 6 under — including two more South Africans in Justin Harding and Daniel van Tonder — were Rahm (64) and Brooks Koepka.
Koepka made four birdies in his last five holes for a 66, then continued his feud with Bryson DeChambeau, who made it to the weekend on the number at Royal St. George’s by shooting a 70.
Rory McIlroy did, too, needing a birdie on the final hole for another 70. He was 11 shots behind.
Other big names weren’t so lucky: No. 7 Patrick Cantlay, No. 9 Patrick Reed, former Open champions Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson, and Darren Clarke, the 2011 champion at Royal St. George’s, were all headed home.