With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at the top of the leaderboard going into Sunday’s third round at the Deutsche Bank Championship one would have expected either of those players to steal the show and seize control of the tournament.
No one would have ever imagined Louis Oosthuizen taking over the spotlight and shooting a blistering 8-under par round of 63, which actually could have been better as he was 8-under after 10 holes with thoughts of 59 running through his head.
“Once I started getting birdies and making putts, I started going at pins because my swing felt great, and after 10 holes being 8-under you always think about getting it to 59,” he said. “I didn’t do anything different from there on in. I hit great shots on 11,12,13, and 14, so I gave myself good chances to post that number.”
The South-African leads the tournament by three strokes over Rory McIlroy, the 36-hole leader, and the man he played alongside Sunday.
Oosthuizen came out on fire shooting a tournament record 29 on the front nine and his seven straight birdies on holes four through ten were also a tournament record. He pared holes 11 through 16 before bogeying the 17th, but he was able to get the dropped shot back by birding the par-5 closing hole.
“You know, I still played well on the back nine. I put myself in good spots to make birdies and just couldn’t make any. I couldn’t make any putts,” he said. “Then with the one bogey on 17, the first green I missed, I was a bit disappointed at the trap shot I hit there, but a nice birdie on 18.”
He also set the record for the lowest 54-hole score of the tournament. The previous low was 17-under back in 2008 by Mike Weir and then again in 2010 by Jason Day. His three shot lead ties the largest lead going into the final round. Adam Scott did it in 2003, while Vijay Singh also did it in 2004 and 2006. Both players went on to win.
McIlroy got off to a good start by birding the first two holes of his round, but he could not keep the momentum going, dropping a shot at the par-5 seventh. McIlroy did play much better on the back nine, birding four holes on the incoming nine. He finished the round with six birdies, two bogeys and will be paired once again with Oosthuizen Monday for the final round.
“I’ve played with Louis a lot, and I really enjoy his company on and off the golf course,” McIlroy said. “He’s a great guy, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Should be good.”
Monday afternoon could very well be a two-man race as the two players have distanced themselves from the field. The next closest players are Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods who sit at 13-under, trailing Oosthuizen by six shots.
Woods quietly went about his business Sunday afternoon shooting a second straight 3-under par 68, while Johnson shot a 6-under par 65, which included eight birdies.
Woods birdied four holes, but gave one shot back on the difficult par-3 11th hole. Despite being six shots back, Woods still believes he is in the hunt.
“It’s definitely gettable,” he said. “You have a short par-4 the first hole and then a driver and kind of a short or mid iron into the [par-5] second hole, and you can drive the fourth. You’ve got to get off to a quick start, at least get some momentum going. I did it once before against Vijay here, so maybe I can do it again.”
Defending champion Webb Simpson shot a five-under par 66, which moved him up 11 positions to a tie for 14th place. With the guys in front of him playing so well, Simpson just wanted to focus on himself and play a solid round of golf.
“I knew those guys are playing so well it’s going to be a tough task,” he said. “But I just anted to come out and play a good solid day of golf and draw on some confidence for next week.”
After his second round 73 Keegan Bradley thought he had missed the cut and even cleaned out his locker. Luckily for Bradley the cut line dropped to 2-over par and he was able to make the cut right on the number.
Bradley made the most his opportunity of playing the final two rounds by going out and shooting a 63 early Sunday morning. The round featured an eagle, seven birdies and just one bogey, which allowed him to move up 48 spots to tie for 19th place.
New England native Scott Stallings who needed a good week to qualify for next week’s BMW Championship, didn’t help the cause by shooting a three-over par 74 on Sunday, falling to a tie for 72nd place. He entered the week No. 61 in the FedEx Cup standings, with only the top 70 moving on to next week. He will likely need a very good round Sunday no advance to the next stage of the FedEx Cup.
With the scoring as low as it’s been the first three days, anything can happen in Monday’s final round making for an exciting finish.
“If you play well, you can shoot really low numbers around here, but still, you need to put yourself in good spots off the tee,” Oosthuizen said. “You need to come from the fairways into the greens.”