Highlighted by co-leader Louis Oosthuizen, South Africans showing strong at Kiawah Island
It’s more than 8,000 miles from South Africa to South Carolina.
But Friday at the PGA Championship it seemed a lot closer.
Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are all inside the top five on the leaderboard heading into the weekend, with Oosthuizen – a major champion already – tied for the lead.
Oosthuizen’s 4-under-par 68 featured a clean card until the very last hole of the day when he made bogey.
“Drove it as good as I can drive it, and ball-striking was pretty good with the irons. With really windy conditions, you need that ball-striking to be on song. Probably gave myself, I don't know -- I think I hit 14 or 13 greens around this golf course in today's conditions is pretty good,” said Oosthuizen.
Oosthuizen came into the week at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island with some form, having finished in the top 10 in his last two PGA Tour starts. He also hasn’t missed the cut at the PGA Championship in a decade, with his best finish, a tie for second, coming in 2017.
“It'll be great to get a second major. There's a lot of golf left, and I just feel whenever I get to a major, I sort of have my game where I want to have it, and mentally I feel very strong at a major week.”
Meanwhile, Grace and Bezuidenhout are squarely in the mix for their first major championship titles.
The pair are both at 3 under and just two shots back of the lead. Grace shot a 1-under 71 Friday, while Bezuidenhout shot a 2-under 70. Ironically enough, the pair shot opposite scores on Thursday.
Grace was 4 under through 13 and near the very top of the leaderboard, but stumbled into the house with a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18.
“I want to say, even with that bad couple of holes, I still got the most out of my round,” said Grace. “I'm exactly where anybody would want to be going into the weekend.”
Bezuidenhout was 3 under through 11 holes thanks to an eagle on the par-5 seventh. There was only one blemish on his scorecard, a bogey on the par-3 14th, but otherwise it was a clean day.
“Most of the holes were (steady). There was a few scramble up-and-downs, par saves here and there, but all the guys are going to have to scramble their way around here. Yeah, but most of the holes were solid holes, solid pars.
“It's always nice to be in the top 5 heading into the weekend… it’s playing pretty hard out here, so yeah, hoping for a solid couple of days over the weekend.”
And he’s not the only South African hoping for some good vibes over the next two days.
There are 11 South Africans in the field this week and more than half of them made the cut.
“We have a great program with youngsters coming through, and it's great seeing them up there,” said Oosthuizen. “I watched a bit this morning and seeing (Grace) and (Bezuidenhout) at this stage being 1 and 2, they're good friends and great players, and they'll definitely be up there this weekend.”