Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel posted a 9-under 63 in the third round of the Zurich Classic and will enter Sunday’s finale at TPC Louisiana with a one-shot lead.
The South African duo rode the hot play of Schwartzel for the first half the Saturday’s best ball play, but Oosthuizen picked up the pace – and then some, down the stretch, making four birdies on his final eight holes including three in a row on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to secure the 54-hole lead.
“It was a very rough first 10 holes for me,” said Oosthuizen, who failed to make a single gain during that stretch. “But yeah, then made a putt there on 11, and it sort of got us on a little run there, and Charl made two good putts on 12 and 13, and I just started hitting a few better shots.”
“I knew he was playing well, so I just tried to give us two chances at birdies. In the beginning it was all on him.”
The two major winners head into Sunday’s alternate shot format each seeking to break long winless droughts on the PGA Tour: For Oosthuizen it’s been 11 years since his 2010 Open Championship victory at St Andrews, while Schwartzel has gone five years without hoisting a trophy (2016 Valspar Championship).
“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,” said Schwartzel.
“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.”
Oosthuizen added, “I mean, look, it’s going to be tough tomorrow. I think anyone within four shots of the lead has got a chance with the format that it is tomorrow. It’s going to be tough. We need to play really well.
“The way the wind is the whole week, I think the golf course plays very tough, especially in alternate-shot.”
The top chasers, and just one off the pace, were Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, who also carded a 63 to join Cameron Champ and Tony Finau (67) on 18 under par.
“Cam is playing great, putting great. I’m feeling a lot better over the ball today than I did the first two rounds,” said Leishman said. “If I can play good, Cam keeps doing what he’s doing, I think we’ve got a good chance.”
Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler were 17 under and tied for fourth alongside Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura, who led after the opening two rounds.
Defending champions Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm paired up for a third-day 65 to remain in chase on 15 under.