SANDWICH - Former champion Louis Oosthuizen said he was off to the "perfect start" in his quest to end a long-wait for a second major title after a six under par 64 fired him into a first-round lead at the British Open on Thursday.
The South African has finished second at both this year's US PGA Championship and US Open, taking his total tally of runners-up places in major tournaments to six.
US-based South African Dylan Frittelli is two shots back alongside Canadian Mackenzie Hughesand veteran American Stewart Cink, another former champion.
Brian Harman matched his compatriot Jordan Spieth with a 65 to share second place for the moment.
Among the other SA morning starters, Justin Harding signed for an opening three-under 67, while Christiaan Bezuidenhout carded a solid opening two-under 68. Dean Burmester shot level par 70 and JC Ritchie carded one-over 71.
Jaco Ahlers, who tied off with the afternoon wave of players, also shot a two-under 68.
"Probably in my mind, the perfect round I could have played," said Oosthuizen after his opening 18 holes at Royal St George's in Sandwich, southeast England.
"I didn't make many mistakes. When I had good opportunities for birdie, I made the putts. So just a very good solid round."
After starting off with seven straight pars, world number 13 Oosthuizen found his groove around the turn with birdies at eight, nine and 10.
He picked up three more shots on the back nine to complete a bogey-free round and finish seven shots clear of playing partners Jon Rahm, the pre-tournament favourite, and defending champion Shane Lowry.
"I've learnt over the years playing major championships that patience is the key thing, and even if you make bogeys, know that a lot of people are going to make bogeys, added Oosthuizen, who won the British Open at St Andrews in 2010.
"I was just very patient. I was trying to just hit my shots and didn't really hit anything close enough to make birdies those first few holes.
"Then all of a sudden just made two good putts on eight and nine and got the ball rolling.
"It happened quickly, but you still need to put yourself in those positions, and I felt definitely the last 11 holes I gave myself a lot of opportunities."