Louis Oosthuizen (pictured) has established a five shot lead ahead of the third round of the HSBC Champions 2012 taking place on Saturday local time and overnight in North American Time Zones.
The field is restricted to 78 players and qualifiers must have won on the European Tour or PGA Tour in events that have attracted the strongest fields in terms of world rankings. This season’s major champions and winners of previous World Golf Championship tournaments are also invited.
These WGC events were added to the schedules to being together the best players in the world more often. With the absence of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, currently number one and two in the world, and two of this season’s major winners, the sponsors may feel disappointed in the quality of the field at the upper level.
However, 15 players who competed in this year’s Ryder Cup are in attendance. Several European based players are looking to qualify for the World Tour Championships in Dubai later this month. The leading 60 players in the standings after the final qualifying event are invited. Several players on the “bubble” are striving for a top 10 finish and qualification this week.
Oosthuizen has no concerns with regards keeping his card for either Tour. He won the British Open at St Andrews in 2010 which gave him a five year exemption for both Tours. Oosthuizen’s current career high world ranking of 11 gets him in to all the most significant tournaments around the world in any case.
There are 151 bunkers on this week’s host course, the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. China does not have one player in the top 100 of the world rankings but the economy is robust enough to allow them to host these lucrative events, often sponsored by global banks.
The key to Oosthuizen’s dominance to date is how he has played the par fives. This week’s course has five such holes and Oosthuizen has birdied or eagled each one in both rounds. His second round score of 63 had just one blemish but eight birdies and an eagle offset a bogey on his second hole.
Adam Scott is joint second before play over the weekend. He is tied at 11 under with Ernie Els, the player who benefited in the British Open when Scott bogeyed the last four holes to throw away a great chance to win his first major.
Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner have games well suited to Olazabal’s design in China. This is a course that requires excellent scrambling skills and accurate driving. Mickelson and Dufner have excelled in these areas to date and consequently lie seven and six shots behind Oosthuizen respectively.