Lee Westwood made 11 birdies to shoot a 61 on Saturday and grab a share of the lead with struggling Louis Oosthuizen after the third round of the HSBC Champions. Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, came into the weekend with a five-stroke lead over the field, but struggled with his putting and carded a 70.
The South African had a chance to retake the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, but missed by inches — the last of many near misses throughout the day. Westwood and Oosthuizen are level at 18-under going into Sunday, three shots ahead of Phil Mickelson, who made seven birdies en route to a 66.
Ernie Els briefly surged into a share of the lead on the back nine before dumping his ball into a reservoir on the tricky 15th hole and taking a double bogey.
He shot a 69 to drop to fourth place, level with Bill Haas (66) and Ian Poulter (65). Westwood, a former world No. 1, has long been considered one of the most consistent golfers in the game, yet he’s never broken through to win a major, finishing runner-up twice—at the Masters and British Open in 2010.
He’s also played in more World Golf Championship events than any other golfer (41), but his best result is second place on three occasions, most recently at the HSBC Champions in 2010 when he lost to Francesco Molinari by one stroke. “It does surprise me that I’ve played more than anyone else. I didn’t realize I was that old,’’ the 39-year-old Englishman said.
Bhullar’s strong round
AFTER his remarkable 12-under performance, Brandt Snedeker moved up from a tie for 38th place to seventh going into the final day, one shot behind Els. The young Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar, ranked 108th in the world, also had a surprisingly strong round, birdying nine times for a 63. He jumped from 27th place to a tie for eighth.
“I just told myself to stick to the routine and the process and just kept on doing that all day long,” Bhullar said.