Oosthuizen surges to 3-shot lead at British Open

Published July 15, 2010

| Associated Press

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Louis Oosthuizen has shot a 5-under 67 for a surprising three-stroke lead at the British Open.

The 27-year-old South African is at 12-under 132 midway through the tournament after showing no signs of being a major championship contender coming into St. Andrews. He missed the cut at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, and this will be the first time in four British Open appearances that he's played on the weekend.

First-round leader Rory McIlroy is set to tee off Friday afternoon. He opened with a 63 that tied the record for the lowest score in a major championship.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — South Africa's on quite a roll.

Coming off the rousing success of being the first African nation to host soccer's World Cup, the country made another splash in the British Open when Louis Oosthuizen surged to a two-stroke lead in the second round Friday.

The 27-year-old from Mossel Bay shot a 7-under 65 in the opening round, despite playing in the tougher afternoon conditions. He wound up two strokes off the pace set by Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who tied the major-championship record with a 63.

Oosthuizen started out in rain gear and played through a half-hour of heavy showers, but the sun peeked through the clouds as he came to the end of his round — just another typical day at St. Andrews.

He made his move for the top before McIlroy even arrived at the Old Course for his afternoon tee time. The South African started with four straight pars, then strung together three birdies in a row beginning at the par-5 fifth. He was more inconsistent on the back side, starting out birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie.

Oosthuizen finally made par with a two-putt from 25 feet at No. 16 and was at 11 under with two holes left, two strokes ahead of charging American Ricky Barnes.

Barnes, a runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Open, shot 32 on the front nine — including an eagle at the fifth — and another birdie at No. 10 kept the pressure on Oosthuizen. Also making a move: England's Paul Casey, who posted a 5-under 31 on the outward holes to get to 8 under, and 50-year-old Mark Calcavecchia, the clubhouse leader after a 67 left him at 7-under 137 midway through the tournament.

There was nothing to indicate Oosthuizen might contend in the third major of the year. He missed the cut at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, and he failed to make it to the weekend at the Scottish Open last week.

Now, it looks as though he'll make the cut at the British Open for the first time in four appearances.

"It was really a matter of getting my confidence up," said Oosthuizen, who got his first win on the European Tour earlier this year. "It's just a great golf course. I love it."

Oosthuizen's only blemish Thursday came on No. 17, the famed "Road Hole," where he missed the green with his second shot and three-putted for bogey.

In a cruel tease, the early starters arrived at the course to a blue sky that stretched over St. Andrews Bay. Within an hour, clouds moved in and it was raining harder than it ever did in the opening round.

McIlroy was warm and dry in his hotel, not teeing off in the second round until 1:31 p.m. local time.

In what has become an annual occurrence for this tournament, a senior golfer claimed a spot on the leaderboard. This time it was Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open champion. He'll try to finish what 53-year-old Greg Norman (the 54-hole leader in 2008) and 59-year-old Tom Watson (who had a potential winning putt on the 72nd hole last year) started.

Both came up short of becoming the oldest major champion in golf history, a title that still belongs to Julius Boros, who was 48 when he captured the 1968 PGA.

"You see a guy like Tom Watson last year, almost winning when he was almost 60, and you realize that it doesn't really matter how old you are," said Calcavecchia, relishing his best round ever at St. Andrews. "The old guys can hang with the young guys."

The group at 6 under included 1995 Open winner John Daly, who pulled off a stunning 66 in the first round while wearing the flashiest outfit on the course: lavender paisley pants, pink shirt, sky blue sweater and turquoise cap.

The American golfer, whose career has been dogged by all sorts of personal problems, could've been scored even lower. Four putts lipped out or caught the edge of the cup without dropping.

Daly had an afternoon tee time.

The ever-changing conditions Friday morning were foreign to McIlroy, who was in the morning wave that played the opening round in amazingly calm conditions. He became just the 22nd player to shoot 63 in a major championship and the first to do it in this event since 1993.

Tiger Woods, trying to win his third straight Open at St. Andrews, opened with a 67 and was set to play in the afternoon.

Phil Mickelson, who made only one birdie in his opening round of 73, went out in the morning with hopes of getting back into the mix — or at least to avoid going home. He got off to a much better start, playing the first seven holes at 2 under to get his score into the red.

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