Farmer’s boy Louis Oosthuizen was left leading the British Open in the second round on Friday through a combination of his own talent and the forces of nature.
The 27-year-old South African, who looks to Ernie Els as his mentor, defied heavy rain showers and cold conditions over the Old Course in the morning to post a 67 and a 12-under total.
He then put up his feet as the rain relented and the wind whipped up, forcing a 65 minute play suspension and blowing his main rivals off course.
Overnight leader at nine-under, Rory McIlroy, had been poised to possibly forge into a commanding lead by the halfway stage, but even he struggled in the blustery afternoon conditions.
McIlroy parred his first three holes before the suspension, but promptly had his first bogey of the tournament at the fourth when play resumed to fall four back. It was even worse for Tiger Woods, who bogeyed the first and the second holes after being pulled off on the first green due to the wind. Woods had started the day handily placed at five under.
Opening day hero John Daly bogeyed the sixth and seventh holes to fall to four under putting more pressure on his brittle temperament.
As Tom Watson had predicted, what the Old Course gave up on one day it took back on another.
The 27-year-old South African Ooosthuizen, who had failed to make the cut in his three previous Open campaigns, started the second round in second place at seven-under par, two behind McIlroy.
But three birdies in a row from the fifth hole, despite heavy early morning rain, saw him move ahead as he went out in 33. Oosthuizen followed up with four birdies against two bogeys on the back nine to come in with a 67, which gave him the overall lead in the clubhouse at 12-under par. The Oosthuizen charge at St Andrews came out of the blue, as he had failed to make the cut in his three previous Open campaigns.
But his first top-tier win at the Andalucia Open in March provided him with a much-needed confidence booster to take his game onto a higher level.
“I think the win earlier in the year in Spain got my confidence going quite a bit, and I’ve been playing well all year, really,” said Oosthuizen. “You know, it’s just a matter of making crucial putts and I made a few crucial ones.”