Deutsche Bank Championship: The Four Horsemen

Louis Oosthuizen “went off” on the front nine of Sunday’s third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC Boston. He shot an effortless 29:

Yeah, obviously probably the start anyone would dream of on that front nine.  I made everything, so you get those days where you just look at a putt and you hole it.  That was my first nine holes.

And you’d probably think that he had a lot on his mind to do something like that. Wrong. He birdied the 10th for a string of seven birdies in a row. He claims it was mindless at that point:

I think at that stage, nothing.  You just keep on going.  I went at most of the pins.  Once I started getting birdies, making putts, I started going at the pins because my swing felt great, and after 10 holes being 8‑under, you always think about getting it to 59.  I didn’t do anything different from there on in.

I hit great shots on 11, 12, 13, 14, [but couldn’t make the putts] so I gave myself good chances to post that number.  But I think it would have been really tough playing tomorrow shooting in the 50s today.  So I’m very happy with my 8‑under today.

At one point until McIlroy began to answer with birdies of his own, Oosthuizen had a six-shot lead. When the dust settled, it was down to three:

Yeah, the lead, obviously it’s not — I didn’t give a lot of shots away.  Rory just kept on coming at me, and I knew that.  I knew I needed to make birdies to keep a five or six‑shot lead.  So a bit disappointed in that I had a lot of opportunities on the back nine still for birdies, and I only made two with a bogey on 17.

You know, all in all, started the day one behind going into tomorrow, leading by three, I’m very happy.

He should have been after shooting 8-under 63. For his part, McIlroy was relieved:

Yeah.  You know, you think going out with a one‑shot lead and shooting 67, shooting 4‑under par, that you’re going to be in — might still be in the lead going into the last day.

But Louis put on a display out there for a few holes, reeling off seven birdies in a row.  I was delighted when I got the honor back on the 12th tee (laughter), but it was great to watch.

Louis is the sort of player that can do that.  He’s very explosive, and he didn’t really put a foot wrong today.  Very impressive round by him and very happy with my round, and very happy that I am still in touching distance going into tomorrow.

When something like that front nine happens to you, the risk is to be a little shell shocked and to try to “make something happen.” But unless you’re very experienced at these things, the product of making something happen could readily be tension. Better to allow something to happen by being patient:

Yeah, you know, you can get into — obviously you’re six behind, and you can try and start pushing, but I was still in second place, so I thought, stay patient.  This sort of — even though this is one tournament, you’re sort of viewing these Playoffs as a whole, and you stay in second place and you’re in great position going into next week and so on.

But as I said, I stayed patient, I made a few birdies on the way in, and very happy only to be three behind going into tomorrow.

And he is by no means discouraged by Oosthuizen’s display:

I thought if I went out and shot another solid score in the mid 60s like I did, I’d be in a good position going into tomorrow, and I still feel like I am in a good position, only three back.  I’ve come from further behind before.  It’s going to be an interesting day tomorrow.

If Oosthuizen shoots even par tomorrow, the only other players who have a chance are Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods, both six shots back.

Johnson shot a hefty, 6-under par 65 to climb up nine spots into a T3 with Tiger:

Well, there wasn’t a lot of wind today, and unlike yesterday, I drove it in the fairway all day today, except for 18.  I think that’s the only one I missed.  That’s the key for me is I’ve got to hit it in the fairway.  I like this golf course.  It sets up well for me off the tee, and today I hit the driver well.

But as a harbinger of what might be possible for him in Monday’s final round, after the round he was shaking his head with a smile on his face. It could have been a whole lot better:

I played really well today, but I left a few out there.  I made bogey on 6 and on 16, both with 9‑irons from the fairway.  That’s not very good.

I chunked it on 6 and then just blocked one right on 16, but those were the only two bad swings I made all day, and unfortunately I made bogey on both of them.

Nice to know that Johnson is at least human. The other incentive for Johnson is to be on the list of four Captain’s picks of Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III, which will be announced Tuesday. If Oosthuizen shoots par on Monday, does Johnson have another 65 in him to at least get into a playoff?

And Tiger remains “hopeful:”

Today I had a few nice looks.  In conditions like this it’s obviously gettable.  Obviously Louis and Keegan [Bradley] both proved that.  Hopefully tomorrow I can go out there and see one of those rounds.

But, see, Tiger has some evidence that his hope is not in vain:

Well, it’s definitely gettable.  You have a short par‑4 the first hole and then a driver and kind of a short iron or mid iron into the second hole, and you can drive the 4th.  You’ve got to get off to a quick start, at least get some momentum going.  I did it once before against Vijay here, so maybe I can do it again.

But it is not likely that Oosthuizen will be flat tomorrow and it seems that McIlroy, at just three back, is the only one with a chance.

The wild card is that Oosthuizen tweaked his right “pec” after a 9-iron on the 16th. He was noticeably trying to stretch it out as he played 16 and 17. He said later that he couldn’t feel the twinge, so we’ll see.

Anyway, the duel between Oosthuizen and McIlroy, two of the best players in the game right now, will definitely be worth the price of admission.

Today I had a few nice looks.  In conditions like this it’s obviously gettable.  Obviously Louis and Keegan both proved that.  Hopefully tomorrow I can go out there and see one of those rounds.
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