Load shedding cut the joy off the course at the SA Open in Randburg, north of Johannesburg, on Saturday, while on it a blustering north-easterly led to some blundering.
The capriciously breeze played havoc and even the usually unflappable Louis Oosthuizen battled to stay on course.
Oosthuizen’s 67, the joint lowest round of the day, proved more than sufficient to catapult him into the lead at 14-under after the third round of the SA Open. Oosthuizen holds a three-shot lead over Charl Schwartzel, England’s Matt Wallace and Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya.
“I didn’t think it was possible to be windier than yesterday, but it was,” said Oosthuizen. “It’s very strange playing up here with this kind of wind.”
Schwartzel, the leader after the second round, lamented the wind, but to be fair his putter left him equally cold. “I grew up here and I’ve never played two days of golf in a row with this kind of wind blowing like this in Johannesburg. It is very abnormal. The pins were tucked away so it was very difficult to go at them.”
He’s was understandably modest about his prospects of overhauling an opponent as redoubtable as Oosthuizen.
Muthiya held the lead briefly but relinquished it under rather bizarre circumstances on the par-three fifth. He missed the green to the left before his attempted recovery came up short in the fringe. He then tried to improvise with one of his ‘rescue’ clubs but double hit the ball leading to a double bogey five.
He bounced back with birdies on the back nine.
Should he go on to win, Muthiya will become the first player from this continent excluding South Africans and Zimbabweans, to win the SA Open.
Born in the Zambian copper belt town of Kitwe, Muthiya took to the sport at the age of six. The prodigy was noticed by former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba who arranged for him to play a tournament in the United States. Muthiya did not look back and went on to represent the University of New Mexico before turning pro in 2005. The following year he became the first black African to play in the US Open.
“I just want to shoot a good round,” he said about his prospect in the final round.
“Those guys have a pedigree behind them. The beautiful thing about golf is just to go out there shoot a good round and see where you stack up.”
At the other end of the remaining field, 15-year old Yurav Premlall, the youngest player to play in this tournament, grimly battled on after making the cut.
“I didn’t expect to be the youngest to play in this event but now I’m part of it. I have tried to stick to my game plan the whole week and not put too much pressure on myself by hyping things up. Just keep it simple as possible,” said the strapping teenager.