Behind the No. 8 green, the moment after Louis Oosthuizen sank a four-foot putt for his third straight birdie, a fan with a European accent said to another, “I think we should stick with him a bit, don’t you think?”
The 2010 British Open champ bogeyed 18 but played true and steady Saturday and shot 3-under, giving himself chances by hitting greens and staying in the fairway. The South African hit 15 of 18 greens and 12 of 14 fairways.
“I played nicely today, swung the club really well,” Oosthuizen said. “I didn’t have to grind anything out at all. I actually left a few birdies out there.”
Easter will be Oosthuizen’s first weekend at Augusta National. He missed the cut in his other three Masters. Sunday he’ll play in the penultimate pairing, alone in third place and only two strokes off the lead at 7-under.
On Saturday, he saved par at No. 1 with a tricky two putt from the right swale, saved par from the fairway bunker on No. 2, and bogeyed No. 4 when he missed a short putt after missing the green right. That would be the only green he’d miss until, from the middle of the fairway, he pushed an iron right and past the greenside bunker on 18, then weakly chipped to the fringe.
His three consecutive birdies – and all the “Let’s go, Louie!” chants – started at 6. He took his first lead after his downhill birdie putt on No. 7 put him 5-under, and retook it when he birdied 12 and moved to 7-under.
“I thought it was great out there, with roars all over the place,” Oosthuizen said. “I expect the same thing tomorrow. We all play to have a chance to win going into Sunday. My thought is to just go out there, play and have as much fun as I can. It’s a great opportunity to go into Sunday at a major two behind.”