South Africa’s contingent of Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel got off to a fast start on day one of the WGC Match Play in Texas.
Louis Oosthuizen fired a bogey-free round with three birdies to see off England’s Ross Fisher 4&2 in blustery conditions on Wednesday. Last year’s beaten finalist found the green in two at the par-5 sixth for a two-putt birdie to win the hole, and he never trailed after that. He won the eighth with a birdie from 11.5 feet.
On Thursday, Oosthuizen will face Jim Furyk.
Andy Sullivan would’ve thought he had a chance to get back into his encounter with Branden Grace at the par 3 seventh. Grace was leading by one but found the greenside bunker while the Englishman had 10 foot left for birdie. Grace turned the tie on its head by holing his effort from the sand and then watched Sullivan miss his birdie try.
Grace did give one back at the next hole with a bogey but the South Africa would not give up the lead. He birdied three holes and had two other birdie attempts on par 5s conceded. It was the Grace’s first day one win in this event after losing on opening day in his four previous Match Play appearances.
‘From 9 onwards, I played really solid. I think I was 5 under from there on in. You don’t really give the other guy any chance to breathe or try to do anything,’ said Grace, who will face another winner on Thursday in William McGirt. The American was a surprise 2up winner over Brandt Snedeker on Wednesday.
Charl Schwartzel completed the rout for South Africa despite a decent start by Byeon-Hun An. An was one up after four but dropped shots four of the next five to put Schwartzel into a commanding position. The South African made birdie at the next hole to go four up.
‘We both played fairly rough in the beginning — he gave me a hole. I gave him a hole,’ said Schwartzel, who has four wins from four on the opening day of the event.
‘We were up and down. And then I found my feet. I started playing really solid and bringing a lot of pressure. Applying that much pressure I got it done.’
Schwartzel next faces Joost Luiten, who lost 2&1 to England’s Paul Casey.
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