Louis Oosthuizen will take a one-stroke lead into today’s final round of the SA Open, which is hosted by the City of Joburg, as he looks to become the first player to successfully defend this title in 16 years.
Oosthuizen took control of the Open with a third round of 64 on Randpark Golf Club’s Firethorn course, lifting him to 15 under par for the championship. The last player to defend the SA Open was fellow South African Trevor Immelman in 2003 and 2004.
“It would mean a lot to do so. It would mean the world to me, especially this week when I’m defending and as the player-host. To have my name on that trophy a second time would be very special,” said Oosthuizen.
England’s Marcus Armitage is his nearest challenger on 14 under following a sublime 62. Jaco Ahlers starts the final round in third place on the leaderboard at 13 under par following his 68.
Talented 18-year-old amateur Jayden Schaper is still in with a chance of making history by becoming the first amateur to win this title since Denis Hutchinson in 1959. He starts the final round three shots off the lead. Branden Grace also heads into the final day three shots off the lead, as does England’s Andy Sullivan, who has an affinity for Johannesburg after winning the SA Open and the Joburg Open in 2015.
But few would doubt Oosthuizen’s ability to complete back-to-back wins in the second-oldest national Open in golf today.
He has overcome the frustrations he felt in his game on Friday, which showed when he started his third round with three birdies in his first four holes.
“That set up the round. I worked on my putting and found a little thing that might improve my rhythm, and it was pretty decent today. I’m hitting it well off the tee, my iron play is good and I’m giving myself loads of opportunities.
“The conditions were perfect for golf. The weather we’ve had the past three days has made it pretty scorable out there. And Firethorn is a golf course that suits my eye and is where I feel very comfortable.”
Oosthuizen’s performance was the perfect end to a day in which the best in South African golf was celebrated with the announcement that Denis Hutchinson’s immense contribution to golf would be recognised through a new tournament in his honour in partnership with the Sunshine Tour, PGA of SA, GolfRSA and the SA Golf Association.
The Denis Hutchinson Challenge Trophy will be played at Hutchinson’s home course of Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on a date still to be announced. It will feature 10 Sunshine Tour professionals and 10 PGA of SA professionals competing as a team against a 20-strong GolfRSA amateur team in an annual match.
“This year is the 60th anniversary of Denis Hutchinson winning the SA Open as an amateur,” said Selwyn Nathan, the commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.
“Between all of us as the bodies representing South African golf, we wanted to celebrate this and build a legacy for Hutchy in years to come. Hutchy is a really special man. He is the voice of golf around the world. As a player, he has been able to transfer the skills he had to many professionals and amateurs. For us to have someone as special as this in South Africa is a great privilege.”