Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel clicked on moving day to take control of the team format Zurich Classic.
The two were asked if they had “dovetailed” to their satisfaction after their Saturday 9-under 63 at TPC Louisiana not only tied the day’s low four-ball score at the Zurich Classic, but propelled them atop the leaderboard at 19-under 197. “We dovetailed well, yeah,” Schwartzel said.
The South African pair’s comfort level is obvious, as they go back to playing golf with and against one another as pre-teens. That could prove to be a significant key as Oosthuizen and Schwartzel head into the tougher foursomes format on Sunday, trying to land victory in the PGA TOUR’s lone official two-man team event.
Believe it or not, Oosthuizen, 38, owns 13 victories around the world (including the 2010 Open at St. Andrews), but never has won a tournament on U.S. soil. How cool would it be if were able to do it with his good pal Charl, 36, the 2011 Masters champion, there by his side? “I think Louis obviously played really well in a lot of majors, and we’ve both won a lot of tournaments, and I feel like the more difficult it is, the better we both play,” Schwartzel said. “So the format for tomorrow in a way suits us, and if we execute the shots the way we see it, we’ll have a good chance.”
The South African pair finished third in this event in 2018. They’ll face a tough combination on Sunday: A difficult format, a toughening golf course that is growing firmer each day and some talented tandems close behind that are very capable of catching them if they play well. Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith – the latter won this event with Jonas Blixt in 2017 to earn his PGA TOUR card – will join Oosthuizen-Schwartzel in the final pairing, just one shot back at 18 under after their own 63. (It was a popular number; six teams shot 63 Saturday.)
Also one shot back will be Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, the long bombers who had played great for two-and-a-half days but hit a wall and stopped making birdies on the back nine Saturday. They shot 67 in best-ball one day after shooting 68 in alternate-shot, and look forward to getting back on track on Sunday.
Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler (66) and the all-Norway team of Kris Ventura-Viktor Hovland (68) will start Sunday just two shots off the pace. Three teams are three back at 16 under: Thomas Pieters-Tom Lewis (63), Tyler Duncan-Adam Schenk (63) and Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele (64).
There were no more fireworks for Graeme McDowell on moving day as the Ulsterman along with his partner Matt Wallace may have suffered a hole in one hangover to drop back to a tie for 25th on -12 and seven shots off the pace. But anything can happen in Sunday foursomes.
The South African duo know all too well the difficulty of foursomes, a seldomly played format that simply takes players out of their normal comfort zones. Two players, one golf ball to share, and so much can happen. The leaderboard is stacked tight, and it points to a thrilling Sunday finish on deck at TPC Louisiana. And that sits just fine with the low-key Oosthuizen. “I think anyone within four shots of the lead has got a chance with the format that it is tomorrow,” Oosthuizen said. “It’s going to be tough.”
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