Friday, July 16, 2010
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Oosthuizen surges to 3-shot lead at British Open

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[July 16, 2010]  ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) -- South Africa's on quite a roll.

Coming off the rousing success of being the first African nation to host soccer's World Cup, the country made another splash in the British Open when Louis Oosthuizen surged to a three-stroke lead in the second round Friday.

The 27-year-old from Mossel Bay -- whose given name is Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen -- shot a 5-under 67 for a 12-under 132 at the midway point of the tournament. He pulled ahead of Rory McIlroy, the 21-year-old Northern Irishman who tied the major-championship record with a 63 on Thursday.

The youngster had an afternoon tee time on a day that epitomized the wacky weather of St. Andrews. The early starters found blue skies when they arrived at the Old Course, but heavy rains rolled in shortly after the start of the round. The sun peeked through the clouds again, then more showers struck just before noon.

The players, it seemed, spent as much time reaching for their umbrellas as they did for their clubs.

"I got up this morning and it wasn't looking real pretty at 4:30," said 50-year-old Mark Calcavecchia, who played in the first group and became the latest old-timer to contend at the Open. "It was actually beautiful when we teed off. Then we saw a little bit of everything."


More ominous for those with the later tee times: The wind, always the best defense at a links course, was starting to whip the flags above the grandstands.

Oosthuizen didn't have to worry about that. He was finished by lunchtime.

"I'm very confident with the way I'm playing," Oosthuizen said. "It's probably the position anyone wants to be in playing a major on the weekend, and I think it's what we work to achieve, and I'm just very happy with the two rounds I put together."

There was nothing to indicate he might contend at golf's oldest major championship. He missed the cut this year at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, and did the same at last week's Scottish Open.

In fact, this is only the second time he'll make the cut in nine major appearances. The other time he did, at the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, he finished last among those playing on the weekend. But he did claim his first win on the European Tour this year, earning a spot at Augusta National.

With the wind at his back, Oosthuizen went with shorter clubs off the tee to keep the dreaded pot bunkers out of play. He got a bit wild on the back nine, starting out birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie before he settled down with a couple of pars and a 15-foot birdie at the final hole to leave him with a good feeling going to a weekend that will be like none he's ever experienced before.

"I'm just having a lot of fun," said Oosthuizen, who strung together three birdies in a row beginning at the par-5 fifth, where a driver and a 4-iron left him with a chip that he left 5 feet from the flag.

Maybe if he's walking up the 18th fairway with the claret jug in his grasp come Sunday, someone will break out the vuvuzuelas, those South African horns that made the World Cup sound as though it was under constant attack from swarming bees.

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Until then, he said, leave 'em at home.

"On the golf course, no, not on the golf course," Oosthuizen said.

Also making a move: England's Paul Casey, who posted a 5-under 31 on the outward holes and was at 8 under, and Calcavecchia, whose 67 left the 1989 Open champion at 137.

A senior golfer on the leaderboard? Nothing new at this event. Calcavecchia will try to finish what 53-year-old Greg Norman (the 54-hole leader in 2008) and 59-year-old Tom Watson (who had a potential winning putt on the 72nd hole last year) started.

Both came up short of becoming the oldest major champion in golf history, a title that still belongs to Julius Boros, who was 48 when he captured the 1968 PGA.

"You see a guy like Tom Watson last year, almost winning when he was almost 60, and you realize that it doesn't really matter how old you are," said Calcavecchia, relishing his best round ever at St. Andrews. "The old guys can hang with the young guys."

Ricky Barnes, a runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Open, shot 32 on the front nine -- including an eagle at the fifth -- but he was seven shots worse on the backside for a disappointing 71 (139).

The group at 6 under included 1995 Open winner John Daly, who pulled off a stunning 66 in the first round while wearing the flashiest outfit on the course: lavender paisley pants, pink shirt, sky blue sweater and turquoise cap.

Daly didn't tone it down Friday, teeing off shortly after noon in pink paisley pants, a lime green cap and a neon shirt.

Tiger Woods, trying to win his third straight Open at St. Andrews, opened with a 67 and was set to play in the afternoon.

Phil Mickelson, who made only one birdie in his opening round of 73, went out in the morning with hopes of getting back into the mix -- or at least to avoid going home. He looked better in the second round, playing the first 12 holes at 2 under to get his score into the red.

[Associated Press; By PAUL NEWBERRY]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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