Louis Oosthuizen plays his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the US Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Louis Oosthuizen plays his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the US Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen finishes 67 to share US Open lead

By AFP Time of article published Jun 18, 2021

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LA JOLLA – South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen sank two clutch par putts on Friday morning to keep a share of the lead as the darkness-halted first round of the 121st US Open resumed at Torrey Pines.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion who began on the back nine, sank a seven-footer at the par-3 eighth and a six-footer at the par-5 ninth to finish off a four-under par 67 and match American Russell Henley for the clubhouse lead.

World number 18 Oosthuizen was among 36 players still on the course when play was halted Thursday, the result of a 90-minute morning fog delay at the formidable oceanside layout.

"I just enjoy playing really tough golf courses," Oosthuizen said Thursday. "I think somehow I focus a little bit better when I play those courses, knowing that the margin for error is really small.

"Especially around this place, you've got to drive it well, got to start it in the fairway. You're going to have trouble if you're missing fairways around this course and I've really been driving it good lately."

Oosthuizen, who has never won on US soil, has finished second in five majors since his breakthrough victory 11 years ago at St. Andrews, most recently at last month's PGA Championship.

World number 63 Henley, who hasn't won a PGA title since the 2017 Houston Open, has never finished in the top 10 in a major.

Sharing third on 68 were Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, who chipped in for eagle from 57 feet at the 18th in a bogey-free round, and Italy's Francesco Molinari, the 2018 British Open winner.

Still on the course Friday morning was Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, who birdied the par-4 seventh to reach 3-under in a bogey-free round.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Spain's third-ranked Jon Rahm shared fifth on 69 after racing sunset to finish Thursday.

Also on 69 were four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, seeking his third US Open victory in five seasons, and fellow Americans Hayden Buckley and Xander Schauffele.

Rahm's US Open preparations were disrupted after he was sent into Covid-19 quarantine last week following a spectacular third round at the Memorial, forced to withdraw after taking a six-shot lead for 54 holes.

Trying to finish before dark Thursday produced a wild closing spectacle, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy running up the 18th fairway to complete a 70 in the twilight gloom.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who struggled to a 73, was at the driving range in the dark working on his trademark long tee shots.

World number one Dustin Johnson, trying to hold off Rahm and number two Justin Thomas to keep the top spot, opened with a 71, two strokes better than Thomas.

Hometown hero Phil Mickelson, trying for a seventh career major win to complete a career Grand Slam, stumbled to an opening 75, managing only one birdie.

The left-hander, who turned 51 on Wednesday, has finished second a record six times in US Opens.

Mickelson won last month's PGA crown at Kiawah Island to become the oldest major champion in golf history.

AFP

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