Oosthuizen vs Watson evokes Masters memories

Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen

When Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson dueled three years ago with a green jacket on the line, Watson struck one of the most memorable shots in Masters history — a few hours after Oosthuizen had put himself on the all-time Augusta highlight reel.

Fans at Harding Park surely will be hoping for similar dramatics when Oosthuizen takes on Watson on Friday with a spot in the Round of 16 of the Match Play Championship at stake.

On Thursday, Oosthuizen outlasted Miguel Angel Jimenez 2 up. Watson dispatched Keegan Bradley 4 and 2.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champ, has won both of his matches at Harding. So has Watson, a two-time Masters champion.

Watson’s first title at Augusta came in a playoff with Oosthuizen in 2012. On the second extra hole, No. 10, Watson carved a brilliant second shot from the pine straw through the trees. The left-hander hooked a gap wedge to about 10 feet, setting up a two-putt par for the title.

That shot also set up a one-liner for Oosthuizen regarding his strategy for facing Watson at Harding.

“I just hope he doesn’t leave it somewhere where he needs to use that hook around the tree,” Oosthuizen said, “because then I’m in trouble.”

Watson said he won’t be thinking much about that Sunday in Augusta three years ago as he prepares for Oosthuizen.

“I just hope the results are the same,” Watson said. “For him, he probably wants to change it.”

Oosthuizen wouldn’t want to change his second shot on the par-5 second hole at Augusta in 2012’s final round. His 4-iron from 253 yards became a double-eagle, the rarest score in golf.

Watson’s match with Bradley on Thursday was well played, and a little testy at times. They were all square through 10, then Watson took control by winning the next three holes with a birdie, a birdie and a par.

It appeared Bradley would win No. 14 as Watson made his lone bogey of the day and Bradley had about a 3-foot par putt. That’s in that “to concede or not concede” range, and Watson chose not to concede it. Bradley didn’t make it.

Watson discussed his philosophy on when and when not to concede putts.

“You’re not trying to jinx anybody or make anybody mad,” Watson said, adding he considers whether his opponents would force him to make a similar putt. “That’s how you’ve got to look at it.”

As for that specific Bradley putt, “It was outside my putter length,” Watson said. “Me and you playing for a dollar, you’re going to make me putt it, too.”

Briefly: Rickie Fowler was the first man to advance to the Round of 16. He beat Shane Lowry 1 up. Even if Fowler loses Friday, he still advances. … Other Thursday winners of note: Top-seed Rory McIlroy beat Brandt Snedeker 2 up. McIlroy meets Billy Horschel on Friday with the winner advancing. … Charl Schwartzel knocked off Dustin Johnson in a 20-hole match. … Jim Furyk, the fifth seed, lost to Thongchai Jaidee 3 and 1.

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