Louis Oosthuizen broke the 36-hole British Open record and is now halfway through his run of nearly misses at majors.
He now has to hold off a group of major champions at Royal St. George’s this weekend.
Oosthuizen broke from a three-way tie on a day of mild summer weather that made it easy for the links at Sandwich Bay to break free with a birdie, birdie and eagle run starting from the 12th green. Oosthuizen brushed aside his first bogey for the week to post a 5-under 65 score and a two stroke lead on Friday.
Collin Morikawa, a former PGA champion, had a 64 in morning play and was two shots back. Jordan Spieth (67), who was aiming for his fourth major, was another shot back.
Dustin Johnson, two-time major champion and Lurking was the No. The world’s No. 1 player shot 65, and was tied for fourth four strokes behind Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen stated that the game was good but that it has a very good leaderboard. “I will have to play great golf this weekend if my goal is to be first.”
Oosthuizen looked as calm as the weather. He broke the 36-hole Open record set in 1992 by Nick Faldo at Muirfield by scoring 11-under 129. Brandt Snedeker matched it in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Oosthuizen, who was the 2010 Open champion at St. Andrews in 2010, will have at least a part of the lead for the fifth round. Oosthuizen was runner up at the two previous majors. He lost to Phil Mickelson at May’s PGA Championship and Jon Rahm at the U.S. Open last Month.
Oosthuizen said, “I’m really not going to think about second spots,” when asked what he would do differently this time. “I know that my game is in good shape.”
He will also be aware of the player quality behind him.
Morikawa made seven birdies in his 14th hole as part of an iron play clinic. Morikawa missed a par putt of 5-foot on No. 15 — the end of a 27-hole stretch with no bogey — and had a 10-foot birdie shot on the last hole catch the lips.
Four shots behind Morikawa, Spieth was tied for first after 12 holes. He then played the final six holes in one over. A stretch that he called “frustrating” because he had many chances to make birdie but his putts didn’t drop as much on Thursday.
Spieth said, “I don’t know, but I think I need more food on the course tomorrow,” adding that he had previously lifted the claret cup at Royal Birkdale in 2017. “I was just really in a strange head space. I felt like I was tired while we waited and hit putts,” he said.
Johnson was a Royal St. George’s runner-up in 2011. He stuck his approach at 3 feet for birdie and 65. This left him at 7 under with Dylan Frittelli (67) from South Africa and Scottie Scheffler (66)
Johnson is likely to be favored by the weather this weekend. Johnson may win if fairways are firm and the ball runs longer.
He said, “I feel like my weekend is going well.”
Brooks Koepka and Rahm (64) were the two players who finished behind an eclectic group of players at 6 under.
Koepka is a four-time major champion and seems to be always in contention at golf’s most important events. He made four birdies in the last five holes for a score of 66. Then he continued his feud with Bryson deChambeau with possibly his best shot of the round.
In a television interview Koepka stated that he was driving it well and added: “I love mine driver” — clearly referring to DeChambeau who said on Thursday that his driver “sucks.”
DeChambeau does not appear to be a factor at Royal St. George’s this weekend, but he’s staying around after shooting a 70 which saw him cut at the number at 1 over.
Rory McIlroy, too, will need a birdie at the last hole to make it another 70. He was eleven shots behind and set to keep on four majors through 2022.
McIlroy stated, “That’s kind of been the case for the past couple months.” “It felt close, but it just wasn’t close enough.”
Other notable names were not as lucky: No. 7 Patrick Cantlay, Number. 9 Patrick Reed, former Open champion Francesco Molinari, and Henrik Stenson were also among those who returned home.
The fact that the cut was at 1-over-141 is a sign of the warm weather that has greeted the best players in the world this week, when there was not a drop of wind at all. Royal St. George’s had a previous low cut of 143.