Louis Oosthuizen singled out ‘stand-in’ Irish-born legendary caddie Colin Byrne for special praise after setting a new Open Championship 36-hole low after two rounds at Royal St. George’s.
Oosthuizen posted scores of 64 and 65 for an 11-under par 129 tally, one shot fewer than Nick Faldo’s mark of 130 set after the first two rounds of the 1992 Open at Muirfield and then matched a decade later by American Brandt Snedeker at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
And had the South African birdied the last hole, he would have tied the major championship 36-hole low set by Brooks Koepka in the 2019 PGA Championship. Oosthuizen, coming off finishing second at last month’s U.S. Open, is now looking to capture a second Claret Jug after capturing the 2010 Open at St. Andrews.
The present World No. 13 heads to the weekend rounds of golf’s oldest major two clear of Collin Morikawa (67 & 64) at nine-under par with fellow former Open winner Jordan Spieth (65 & 67) is at eight-under, with three players, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson (68 & 65), on seven-under. Oosthuizen’s 40th round in his 14th Open was capped by a 14th hole eagle ‘3’ along with four birdies, including back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 with his only dropped shot in two rounds coming at the par-3 16th.
“I only heard that I’d broken the record when I walked in here to the media centre, so I wasn’t aware of what it even was before,” he said.
“Yeah, to have any record at the Open or part of any record at the Open is always very special. I think I’ve played really good the last two days. I probably played a bit better yesterday in the conditions we were playing in, but today I would say we got lucky sort of the last nine holes. It was as good a weather as you can get playing this golf course.
“All of us took advantage of that. I think in our three-ball we had a 64 and two 65s, which you don’t really see around a links golf course.”
Irish-born Byrne is no stranger to golf at the pointed-end of a leaderboard. He caddied for another South African in Retief Goosen in capturing the 2001 U.S. Open in Tulsa, Oklahoma and has caddied for Darren Clarke and was on Ernie Els’ bag for a lengthy period. More recently Byrne has been beside Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello.
And Oosthuzien was asked by Irish Golfer Magazine how beneficial has it been having someone of Byrne’s enormous experience calling the shots this week:
“Yeah, it’s great having Colin on the bag as he’s had all the experience, he’s caddied for so many great players and won a U.S. Open being on Retief’s bag,” said Oosthuizen.
“When COVID happened and everything, it obviously affected everyone and travelling and things, and I always bag share, and I have two caddies. One is in South Africa and my other caddie lives down in Australia. With everything that went on, you couldn’t really do all the travelling from Australia here, so I had to look for another caddie, and my caddie from South Africa had Visa issues.
“I went through a little bit of a run where every week I had someone else on the bag or close to every week someone else on the bag and then got on to Colin and was grateful that he could help me out. He’s been great on the bag and really enjoyed him.”
It cheekily begged the tongue-in-cheek question by Irish Golfer Magazine that if he should capture a second Open Championship, will Byrne remain as his caddy?
“Come on, Bernie, don’t put me on the spot,” said Louis, smiling. “Look, I’m very happy with Colin. Hopefully we can have a good relationship!”
- Full scoring HERE