The Open Championship has been played since 1860 and no one has ever put together a better 36-hole start than Louis Oosthuizen. The farmer from South Africa, whose golf bag may as well have a bumper sticker reading "I'd rather be on a tractor," was brilliant Thursday, posting a 64 and sleeping on the lead. On Friday he was almost as good, coming through with a five-under round to put him two shots ahead of Collin Morikawa. His 11-under is the first of its kind heading into the weekend at this proud tournament.
Think about that. Of all the players across a century and a half, it's this unassuming veteran whose softness stands in stark contrast to his confident grip-it-and-rip it approach. If Oosthuizen were a pitcher he'd lead the league in balks because once he makes a decision, he wastes no time coming to a set before attacking the ball. There's a certain level of ho-hum greatness, the type that sneaks up on you until you read about some once-in-160-year feat.
Oosthuizen wasted no time breezing through Royal St. George's with a birdie on No. 1. He'd add another on No. 7 before going birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 12-14. The only bogey of his tournament at No. 16 prevented him from setting an even more impressive record. He sits two shots ahead of Collin Morikawa and three free of Jordan Spieth. A robust and star-studded group including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm remain in the conversation.
All of those names are bigger than Louis'. But none have consistently played better at the major level than him over the past decade — even if they've done more winning. Since winning the British 11 years ago, Oosthuizen has become a professional Susan Lucci, earning runner-up honors in six majors. One of those came at last month's U.S. Open (he also finished third in the 2020 event). Another at May's PGA Championship. One marvels at his ability to fight to the top of the leaderboards against the highest quality fields and give himself opportunities. Two of those have come crashing down in playoff play.
As he walked the golden fairways and lined up his next salvo at the pin, fans could grasp the opportunity he has here to cap a remarkable if not disappointing run with a victory too long in the making. It's not a new position for him to be in, but it may be his best in a long, long time.
This is all becoming routine for golf's Mechanical Man. The player you wind up and trust to go out there and fight for the most cherished prizes in the sport.