Schwartzel-Oosthuizen Up by 1 in Zurich

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are good friends and great teammates.

Oosthuizen (pictured right) sank a 33-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and tapped in for another birdie on No. 18 to cap a 9-under-par 63 in the best-ball format as the South Africans took a one-stroke lead over Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith of Australia, and Cameron Champ of Sacramento and Tony Finau heading to the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.

“If Louie keeps making 40-footers, we’ve got a good chance,” said Schwartzel (left), the 2011 Masters champion. “The format tomorrow (alternate-shot) suits us because of the way we play. We’re pretty conservative, we keep the ball in play and don’t make mistakes. Just fairways and greens.”

Said Oosthuizen, who won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews: “We’ve known each other for a long time and we’re comfortable around each other. We’ve played a lot of social golf together. Tomorrow’s format can be stressful, but we’re playing well and we’ll just keep going.”

In round three, Schwartzel carried the team with three birdies on the front nine before adding two on the back, where Oosthuizen caught fire with birdies at No. 11 and three in a row at the finish as they posted a score of 19-under 197.

Leishman had five birdies, including two on the last three holes, and Smith added four as the Aussies also shot 63, while 36-hole co-leaders Finau and Champ closed out a 67 when Finau tapped in for a birdie at No. 18.

“We had a lot of solid ball-striking and made some putts,” said Smith, who teamed with Jonas Blixt of Sweden to win the 2017 Zurich Classic. “There was not a lot of stress, even though it was tough out there because it was windy. We’ll need more of the same stuff to make a run at it tomorrow.”

Said Leishman: “I went to the range after the round yesterday to iron some things out and was able to contribute a little more. I’m happy with the way I played today and have to keep it up tomorrow.”

Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler, who had three early birdies, finished at 66 after Watson sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the last hole and are two shots behind in a tie for fourth with Viktor Hovland and Kristoffer Ventura of Norway, who had a share of the lead each of the first two rounds, as Ventura birdied the last two holes to finish a 68.

Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside and Keegan Bradley, who eagled the second hole, totaled 64 and are one more down in a tie for sixth with Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Tom Lewis of England, and Tyler Duncan and Adam Schenk, both teams posting 63s.

Third-seeded Jon Rahm of Spain and Ryan Palmer, the defending champions, shot 65 and are four strokes behind in a tie for ninth with Doug Ghim and Justin Suh of San Jose and USC (63), Erik van Rooyen of South Africa and Wyndham Clark (63), Kyoung-Hoon Lee of South Korea and Kyle Stanley (64), Brandt Snedeker and Keith Mitchell (64), Alex Noren and Henrik Norlander of Sweden (64), Billy Horschel and Sam Burns (65), Pat Perez of San Diego and Jason Kokrak (66), and Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings (64).

Stallings sank an 11-foot eagle putt on the 11th hole and an eight-footer for another eagle at No. 18.

Eighth-ranked Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett of England are tied for 19th after a 65, while fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of Torrey Pines and San Diego State and 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA shot 68 and are tied for 30th.

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