Louis Oosthuizen made a spectacular closing eagle at Torrey Pines Golf Club to take a share of the lead heading into the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open Championship.
The South African was crowned Champion Golfer of the Year in 2010 and since then has five second place finishes in Major Championships, including at this event in 2015 and at last month’s US PGA Championship.
He will now have another chance to become a multiple Major Champion after a 70 moved him to five under alongside American Russell Henley and Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes.
There was then an intimidating pair at three under in the shape of four time Major winner Rory McIlroy and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, with Spaniard Jon Rahm and home duo Scottie Scheffler and Matthew Wolff at two under.
A victory for Oosthuizen would be his tenth on the European Tour but incredibly his first on American soil on any circuit, and would take him to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
“It would mean everything in the world,” he said. “It’s what we play the game for and why we stand on the range hitting balls, to win Majors. I feel I have the game to win another one so I need to go out and play well tomorrow.
“There’s a lot of great players up there that’s got a chance of winning this and I just need to go out and play as good as I can.”
The 38-year-old holed from 11 feet on the fifth but made bogeys on the first and seventh as he turned in 36.
He dropped further shots on the tenth and 14th but made a two putt birdie on the 13th and holed a 30 footer on the 16th to keep in touch before a 50 foot putt on the last green brought an eagle and catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard.
Co overnight leader Henley made a flying start with an approach to 13 feet on the first but gave the shot straight back on the next after a poor tee shot.
He put his second to seven feet on the fourth to lead alone but he dropped a shot on the sixth after getting into some bunker trouble.
The 32-year-old did manage to get up and down from the sand on the par five ninth to lead by two at the turn but once again he quickly gave back any ground gained, dropping a shot at the tenth after finding a bunker off the tee, and he was just two clear of clubhouse leader McIlroy.
A booming drive left the Northern Irishman with just a flick into the second but that was his only birdie of the front nine before a brilliant run from the tenth.
He put his approach to five feet on the tenth, pitched in on the 12th and then two putted the next after hitting the pin with his second for another birdie.
He did well to drop a single shot on the 15th after sending his tee shot a long way left and taking a drop, but recovered with a two putt gain on the par five last.
Henley holed a bunker shot on the 11th to briefly see the lead extended to three but Hughes quickly trimmed it back.
He turned in 36 as he almost holed a bunker shot on the fifth but made bogeys on the fourth and ninth.
A tee shot to six feet on the 11th was followed by a spectacular 60 foot putt for eagle on the 13th and when Henley failed to get up and down from the sand on the 15th, the gap was back to one.
Hughes then put his bunker shot to five feet on the 18th to join the lead, where he would soon have company from the fast finishing Oosthuizen.
DeChambeau was bogey free as he made gains on the first, sixth and 13th in a 68 to match the score of Hughes, while Henley carded a 71.
Rahm made a double, a bogey and two birdies in a 72 to sit a shot ahead of World Number One Dustin Johnson, three more Americans in Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Streelman, and South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout. – European Tour.