NORTON, Mass. – For all the talk of parity in golf after Tiger Woods went into his self-inflicted and injury-induced hiatus in 2010 it should be noted that the old-fashioned blowout has not exactly gone the way of the Dodo bird.
Some players, special sorts with an overdrive that defies conventional wisdom, still have the ability to play a game others are not familiar with, to pull away like Usain Bolt and plow through the finish line.
“It's one of those things, if it's your week and you're playing really well, you just keep on going,” Louis Oosthuizen said late Saturday.
Of course, the man who is affectionately referred to as “Shrek” was referring to Rory McIlroy, who won his first two majors by a combined 16 strokes, but after a frantic Sunday at the Deutsche Bank Championship it was McIlroy, paired in Round 3 with Oosthuizen, who was marveling at the South African’s ability to distance himself from all challengers.
“I made a birdie at 11 and got the honor (on the 12th tee) and was like, ‘Yes,’” McIlroy told Woods as the two crossed paths in the scoring area. At the same moment Oosthuizen stood 3 feet away doing his own media chores.
It may be as close as the two alpha males, or anyone else for the matter, get to him the rest of the week.
Oosthuizen ripped off seven consecutive birdies starting at the fourth to pull away from a stunned field. The rout seemed so pronounced at one point the field at TPC Boston began looking like Savannah State, which was pounded in its season opener against Oklahoma State, waiting for the school’s $385,000 payoff.
There is no chance the second FedEx Cup playoff stop balloons to an 84-0 walk-over, Saturday’s line in the OSU mugging, but at the rate Oosthuizen is going it may be just as impressive.
“King Louis” has posted just two bogeys all week at TPC Boston and played a 17-hole stretch, from the 12th hole on Saturday to his 10th on Sunday, in 11 under. He leads McIlroy – who carded a 67 on Sunday – by three strokes, and Woods and Dustin Johnson by a half-dozen.
“I did it once before playing against Vijay (Singh) here,” Woods said of his title chances, sounding like he was trying to convince himself more than the assembled scribes.
At the 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship Woods rallied from three back to beat the Fijian thanks to a front-nine 30 that included two eagles. It may take more than that to track down Oosthuizen.
This is, after all, the same farmer-turned-world-beater who began the final round of the 2010 British Open four strokes clear of Paul Casey, closed with a 71 on a windswept Sunday at St. Andrews and lapped the field by a touchdown.
Don’t let the “aw shucks” exterior fool you, the South African is something of a Sunday assassin.
“I won a tournament in South Africa once by 14 on the Sunshine Tour because it's just one of those weeks where you just keep on going,” said Oosthuizen, who has improved his putting with each round (28 putts in Round 1, 27 on Saturday and 26 on Day 3).
There is, however, a measure of good fortune for Tour officials if Oosthuizen continues to separate himself on Monday. The Deutsche Bank features a number of compelling storylines that, unlike Oosthuizen’s quest for his second Tour title, won’t be decided until the 18th green, and beyond.
A number of players are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, including Jeff Overton, who started the week 83rd on the points list and is currently tied for ninth and projected to advance to next week’s BMW Championship.
D.A. Points, who is tied with Overton at 9 under, is also scrambling to lock up a spot in the third playoff event, while Jonathan Byrd, 69th to start the week but currently tied for 72nd, needs a big Monday to make the BMW field.
This is also the last week for players to impress Davis Love III, who will announce his four U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks on Tuesday in New York City.
Johnson, one of about seven players considered viable picks, has done the most to help his chances this week with rounds of 67-68-65; while Brandt Snedeker, runner-up last week at The Barclays, is tied for ninth after a Sunday 65.
“It's all about the process,” Snedeker said. “That's the one thing Davis has been trying to get across to us is get in the process. I've been doing a great job of that the last two weeks. Don't worry about what can happen.”
For those pursuing Oosthuizen wishful thinking may be all that gets them through the final leg of what may turn into a Labor-ious Day for Woods & Co.
When he walked off TPC Boston on Sunday a reporter informed Woods that Oosthuizen had birdied the 18th hole and was now 19 under. “Nineteen (under)? Wow,” Woods sighed.
Wow, indeed. The blowout, it seems, is still alive and well.
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