Nov 2 2012
Louis Oosthuizen might have been a surprise winner of The Open two years ago - it was only the second time he had made a cut in a major - but things have become very different since then.
The 30-year-old, who very nearly added The Masters in April, losing a play-off to Bubba Watson, is 11th in the world and now leads the final World Championship event of the season by five shots at the halfway stage in China. Rounds of 65 and 63 have taken Oosthuizen to 16-under-par in the HSBC Champions at Mission Hills.
He held the same advantage after 36 holes at St Andrews in 2010 - and went on to triumph by seven, and he said: "I'm in a great position to win, but it's not even crossed my mind at the moment. There's still a lot of golf to be played. I need to put myself in a great position going down the back nine on Sunday."
For 90 minutes on Friday he held the course record on his own after his nine-under round. However, in the last group of the day fellow South African and current Open champion Ernie Els matched it to join Adam Scott - the Australian who bogeyed the final four holes at Lytham in July to let him in - in second place.
Two-time former winner Phil Mickelson would have been alongside them but for a closing double bogey. He tried to play out of the hazard left of the green, but moved the ball only a few inches and after two early eagles had to settle for a 69.
As for the European Tour money list race, the absent Rory McIlroy is an even stronger favourite after Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Hanson double-bogeyed the 12th and bogeyed the 14th for a 71 that dropped him from joint third into a tie for 12th.
Having beaten McIlroy in Shanghai last Sunday, Swede Hanson needed to win again to go past the world number one with three weeks left, but he now has nine strokes to make up.
Oosthuizen and Els have the chance to go second on the table this weekend, but Els is playing only his 10th Tour event of the season and unless he changes plans his name will be removed from the list for not meeting the 13-tournament minimum.
The 43-year-old has yet to have a bogey this week on his return from an ankle injury suffered when treading on a tennis ball during some time off, but Oosthuizen, a product of Els' foundation like Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, is not going to be easy to catch.
Masters champion Bubba Watson, for instance, put two balls in the water for a triple-bogey eight at the 15th - he was lying seventh at the time - and Japanese back marker Kenichi Kuboya took 10 there in a horrific back-nine 49.