Sports News

Oosthuizen rallies after slipping off pace

BRO, Sweden (Reuters) - British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was still in the hunt for a Scandinavian Masters title on Friday to follow his first major win despite slipping off the second round lead at one stage.

The 27-year-old South African dropped five strokes off the pace but recovered gamely to card a two-under-par 70 and trail front-runner K.J. Choi of Korea by only two shots.

Choi took the halfway lead with a five-under-par 67 which moved him to nine-under 135.

Swede Richard S. Johnson stepped into second place in the afternoon with a 66 that left him a stroke adrift of Choi and a shot in front of Oosthuizen.

Oosthuizen lost ground badly when he hit into the lake at the par-three 17th, his eighth hole, to run up a double-bogey and his putting was nowhere near the standard of St Andrews or the first round in Sweden.

“I didn’t putt as well as I have been doing and missed a few right-to-left putts, so I’ll be practicing those,” Oosthuizen told reporters.

“All of us misjudged the wind on the 17th and it proved costly for me. After that it was fine, though, and I hit two good shots on 18.”

Leader Choi, seeking a second European Tour title to go with seven wins on the U.S. PGA Tour, holed a 25-foot birdie putt and slotted home from 10 feet for his eagle. However, he twice missed putts of around two feet as his form on greens continued to vary.

He is tinkering with a putting action from outside his right hip, once favored by Sam Snead, having seen the seven-times major champion using the action in a 1968 magazine.

Choi tried it in last week’s British Open but missed the cut and he said he was loath to use it this week.

“The greens are too sloping here to use that method,” he told reporters. “I’m very confident with my swing, though, and I just have to stay patient on the greens.”

Johnson, who won the 2008 U.S. Bank tournament on the U.S. PGA tour, is struggling in his fifth year in America, lying 161st in the FedEx Cup standings.

He is showing a liking for playing in his home country, though, after giving himself an unusual preview of the Bro Hof Slott course.

“I came here a couple of weeks ago and they wouldn’t let me play off the back tees, which made me a bit angry,” Johnson told reporters.

“But I shot eight-under off the yellow tees and that was good for me in the end because it gave me confidence for making birdies here.”

Argentine Rafa Echenique (69) joined Oosthuizen in third place late in the day.

Editing by John Mehaffey