Louis Ooshuizen leads Houston Open

Associated Press Modified: March 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm •  Published: March 31, 2012
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HUMBLE, Texas (AP) — Louis Oosthuizen took a moment at Redstone on Saturday to take in the view of the golf course backlit by the setting sun.

The rest of the day, he was all business.

The 29-year-old South African shot his second straight 6-under 66 to reach 17 under and take a two-shot lead over Hunter Mahan after the third round of the Houston Open.

Carl Pettersson (67) and Brian Davis (69) were three strokes back at 14 under. James Driscoll (71) was alone at 12 under. Defending champion Phil Mickelson (70), Keegan Bradley (69) and Ryan Palmer (66) were 11 under.

"It's a great leaderboard behind me," Oosthuizen said. "It's going to be tough, but I feel like I'm ready for it."

Oosthuizen shook off two early bogeys on a sunny, windy afternoon at Redstone. He reeled off four straight birdies on the back nine, and in the midst of his streak, Oosthuizen enjoyed some of the natural scenery.

"It was such a beautiful back nine, really, with the weather and the sun dropping," Oosthuizen said. "Such a nice place out there, which was good, and (I) just felt when we turned on 15, I was playing down the sun and the course looked spectacular."

Mahan had a 65, which included four birdie putts of at least 23 feet. He sank a 23-footer on No. 5, a 34-footer on No. 6, and 28-footers on Nos. 10 and 14.

"That was a nice stretch there," Mahan said. "It easily could've gone through there even, instead of a couple under like I did."

Mahan doesn't feel quite as locked in as he did when he won the Match Play Championship earlier this year, but he still feels confident heading to next week's Masters. But Mahan has three top-10 finishes in Houston since 2007, and never considered bypassing this week's event to get to Augusta early.

"I thought about it for about a second," Mahan said. "But this is a place I've played well at, so I want to play well here and try to win here. I really didn't want to pass this tournament up. Augusta will take care of itself."

Three-time major champion Ernie Els, who must win to qualify for the Masters next week, was in a group at 8 under. Els hasn't missed the Masters since 1993 and knew that his chances of winning Sunday are remote.