By Andrew Both
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C (Reuters) – If not for a bad back and a sometimes-shaky putter, Louis Oosthuizen might have been one of the best players of his generation.
He has had a very good career make no mistake, highlighted by a runaway seven-shot win at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, but has also come up agonisingly short in several other majors.
The sweet-swinging South African, whose swing seems as languid as his temperament, has the dubious honour of completing the runner-up grand slam of all four majors, including playoff losses at the British Open (2015) and Masters (2012).
But victory in the PGA Championship here at Kiawah Island could relegate those disappointments to little more than afterthoughts.
Despite bogeying the brutal par-four 18th on Friday, which prevented him from the only blemish-free second round, a four-under-par 68 left Oosthuizen tied for the halfway lead with 50-year-old Phil Mickelson.
“I don’t think it’s a case of not being able to, or thinking that I can’t get the second. It’s just both times (in major playoffs) I was outplayed,” Oosthuizen said.
“Look, it’ll be great to get a second major. There’s a lot of golf left, and I just feel whenever I get to a major, I sort of have my game where I want to have it, and mentally I feel
very strong at a major week.”
The American no doubt will be the gallery favourite when he plays with Oosthuizen in the final pairing on Saturday, but few would seem better prepared to cope with the distractions.
Oosthuizen is seemingly unflappable, as he showed at the 214-yard 17th on Friday, where he had the honour on the tee after a long wait.
Using the time fruitfully, he pulled out his rangefinder distance-measuring device to check the yardage to the pin, and then selected a four-iron.
Making sure he did not flirt with the lake right of the green, he aimed well left and his ball rolled into a bunker, almost exactly where he had aimed, which elicited a wry smile.
Never mind, he saved par anyway.
“I hit it in the water yesterday so I wasn’t going right again,” he said. “It was a good number for me with a four.
“If it goes in that bunker, you can just pop it out and was fortunate to make the par for putt as well.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Stephen Coates)