KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Louis Oosthuizen called his performance in Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island “probably the worst I’ve played in a while.’’
Yet Oosthuizen, who was paired with 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson (7-under) and shot 72, is just two shots back entering Sunday’s final round.
“I wouldn’t call that solid play,’’ said the 32-year-old South African, who won the Open Championship in 2010 at St. Andrews. “Especially the first 10 holes going along with Phil hitting it beautifully and playing great, I was all over the place. I could sense early on that I wasn’t on song, especially I felt a move in my driver that I didn’t like, and from there it wasn’t good.
“So, I was just sort of fighting to stay in it, and you know, at the end there, started judging the greens wrong and everything just fell apart. All in all, two behind going into Sunday, I’ve got to take a lot of positives out of that with the way I was playing today.’’
Oosthuizen’s worst swing of the day came on the 13th hole, right after he’d birdied 11 and 12 to close in on Mickelson. He sprayed his tee shot into a lagoon.
“It felt way earlier than that, that I was all over the place,’’ he said. “So, I wasn’t really surprised with hitting a bad tee shot on 13. It was a tough wind left-to-right, and I was just not doing the right move I should have.’’
After the players have dealt with the first three rounds in a northern wind, the wind direction is expected to change from the north to the south during Sunday’s final round.
Jordan Spieth believes the shift in wind direction will benefit tournament leader Phil Mickelson, who is left-handed.
“I would actually point out that [Sunday’s] wind direction is very suitable for a lefty on that into-the-wind nine holes when you get it in off the left with a lot of trouble on the right side,’’ Spieth said after his round Saturday. “[Mickelson] can start it off left and hold the wind or even draw it back into those pins. I think it’s very suitable for a left-hander [Sunday] versus the other winds that we’ve had like [Saturday] or like [Friday] off the right and down would be a little harder for a lefty on those holes.’’
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, who shot a 2-under 70 Saturday and is 1-over for the week, was asked: Is soon-to-be 51-year-old Mickelson is in consideration as a captain’s pick for the team based on his strong PGA this week.
“Oh, geez, I don’t know, but obviously if he were to go on and win here and continue to play some great golf … ,’’ Stricker said. “He hasn’t played really all that well up to this point, spurts here and there. He’s won on the Champions Tour a couple times. It’s nice to see him playing well.’’
Asked what kind of “weight’’ he would put on Mickelson’s performance this week, Stricker said, “You could put a pretty good amount of weight on this week I feel like just because I feel like this is really similar to Whistling Straits. We’ve got wind, we’ve got links style but not really links style golf, which is similar to Whistling Straits. We’ll look — myself and the captains — at who played well here this week for sure because this is a telltale for Whistling Straits.’’
Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship by eight shots in 2012, the last time it was played at Kiawah Island, is having a very different week this year. He continued to struggle Saturday, shooting a 2-over 74 and is 5-over for the tournament.
“The par-5s this week haven’t been great,’’ McIlroy said. “I’m 5-over for the tournament and I think 4 or 5-over for the par-5s. I just feel like I haven’t had any momentum this week, and when you start the way I did [Saturday] with a bogey and then you don’t make a birdie on the second hole, you’re just always trying to play catch-up. It’s hard to on this golf course because there’s very few opportunities where you can be really aggressive.’’
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