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Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel lead Zurich Classic, but expect a wild race to the finish

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau and Cameron Champ have been flipping a coin on the first tee all week to resolve who leads issues off and mentioned they possible would accomplish that once more on Sunday when the format at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans flips again to alternate-shot in the crew competitors.

Might as effectively flip a coin to resolve who’s going to win the title, too. There are 16 groups inside 4 strokes of the 54-hole leaders, the South African pair of Louis Oosthuiazen and Charl Schwartzel, who “dovetailed” on Saturday to a best-ball rating of 9-under 63 and a 54-hole complete of 19-under 197 at TPC Louisiana.

Schwartzel led the manner early as Oosthuizen didn’t make a birdie till pouring in a 19-foot birdie putt at No. 11. But as soon as his putter warmed up the crew birdied six of the final eight holes, together with the last three. Oosthuizen supplied the exclamation level at the par-3 seventeenth, canning a bomb from 34 ft, the solely birdie at the gap all day.

“Now and then you get a putt like that where you feel like you’re actually going to make it, you stand over it and just need to hit a good stroke,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “It was one of those.”

But the veteran South Africans know that tomorrow is one other day and a more difficult format, the place birdies shall be extra scarce, particularly if the wind blows once more. Oosthuizen has by no means received on American soil and is winless on the PGA Tour since the 2010 British Open, whereas Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, hasn’t hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour since the 2016 Valspar Championship. Could they comply with in the footsteps of Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama on the PGA Tour and Lydia Ko on the LPGA by ending prolonged victory droughts tomorrow?

“I think anyone within four shots of the lead has got a chance with the format that it is tomorrow,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “It’s going to be tough. We need to play really well.”

Indeed, there’s a lot of golf nonetheless to be performed earlier than a crew will get to slip on the championship belts. But to hear Schwartzel inform it, the harder the higher for them.

“The more difficult it is, the better we both play, so the format for tomorrow in a way suits us, and if we execute the shots the way we see it, we’ll have a good chance,” he mentioned.

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Hot on their heels embrace the crew of Australians Cameron Smith, who received the crew title in 2017, and Marc Leishman, who showed up to the first team wearing a mullet wig to match that of his accomplice and resembled the hairdo of competitor Pat Perez who was enjoying in the similar group.

The first-tee hijinks wasn’t Leishman’s solely contribution on Saturday. He went to the vary after Friday’s spherical and realized his setup was too open. With his wedges dialed in as soon as once more, Leishman made 5 birdies together with all three for his or her crew on the second 9 en route to a second spherical of 63 in the four-ball format.

“I was happy just being there and watching Leish play good golf,” mentioned Smith, who chipped in at the third gap but didn’t make a birdie after the eighth. “It was good to see.”

On a day when six groups posted 63, Cameron Champ and Tony Finau, co-leaders after 36 holes, managed solely to shoot 5-under 67, but a birdie at the final lifted them inside one stroke of the lead heading into the last spherical. as Champ was held to one birdie on the day.

“When I was a little off, he picked me up; when he was a little off, I picked him up,” Finau mentioned. “That’s the essence of team golf.”

Bubba Watson, who received right here in 2011 as a person, and accomplice Scottie Scheffler, who remains to be on the lookout for his maiden win on the PGA Tour, and the Norwegian duo of Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura are every two strokes again in a tie for fourth. Hovland and Ventura struggled to shoot 68 in finest ball, but had been inspired by the proven fact that they tied for the low spherical of the day in the alternate-shot format on Friday (68). Their plan for Sunday?

“I would just say play stress-free golf,” Hovland mentioned. “Boring golf is good.”

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (T-9) are amongst the group 4 again, and shot 7-under 65 in the alternate-shot format in 2019. Finau predicted a rating in the 60s would most likely be ok for any of the prime contenders. He, too, is making an attempt to finish a winless streak relationship to 2016. How significant would it not be to win a crew occasion versus a person title for him?

“It would be quite special,” Finau mentioned. “I don’t know too many guys that can say that they’ve won team events because there’s only one out here. So it almost would be I think even more special to win, and to win with this guy would be really special.”

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