NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Louis Oosthuizen knows what it's like to hit every shot right where he's aiming and to stand over every putt believing it will go in. He once shot a 57 on his home course at Mossel Bay in South Africa, a number he wears on the left sleeve of his shirt.
For about two hours Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship, that's how it felt.
Oosthuizen ran off seven straight birdies, a streak that began after he nearly three-putted from 5 feet. He shot 29 on the front nine of the TPC Boston. He didn't miss a green until the 17th hole. That's all it took to race by PGA champion Rory McIlroy, leave Tiger Woods behind and seize control going into the Labor Day finish.
Oosthuizen had an 8-under 63, establishing tournament records for consecutive birdies, low front nine and a 54-hole score of 19-under 194.
"Probably the start anyone would dream of on that front nine," Oosthuizen said. "I made everything, so you get those days where you just look at a putt and you hole it. That was my first nine holes."
The back nine wasn't bad, and it included one brief scare when he felt a twinge in his back when he went after a 9-iron on the 16th. The ache was gone on the 18th, and he rolled in one last birdie to keep McIlroy from getting even closer.
McIlroy, trying to match Woods with his third PGA Tour win this year, did well just to stay in range.
"You think going out with a one-shot lead and shooting 67 that you ... might still be in the lead going into the last day," McIlroy said. "But Louis put on a display out there for a few holes, reeling off seven birdies in a row. It was great to watch. Louis is the sort of player that can do that. He's very explosive and he didn't really put a foot wrong today. Very happy that I'm still in touching distance going into tomorrow."
Combine one of the sweetest swings in golf with a putting stroke that was just as pure, and that's what Oosthuizen is capable of doing. Remember, he won the British Open at St. Andrews in 2010 by seven shots.
Woods again didn't make as many putts as he thought he could, and even a short birdie on the 16th left him nervous until it curled in. He still managed a 68 and was six shots behind, along with Dustin Johnson, who kept alive his hopes of being picked for the Ryder Cup with a 65.
Oosthuizen's birdie streak featured four putts of at least 20 feet, including a 40-footer at No. 8. It reached a point that on a 20-foot birdie on the 11th for his eighth in a row, he was shocked when it didn't fall.
"Every putt had perfect speed," said Oosthuizen, who made four putts of at least 20 feet during his streak of birdies. "I told Rory, 'Sorry, but you've got to take it when you can.'"
The exchange they had on the 11th hole indicated what kind of performance this was.
Oosthuizen covered the flag on one of the toughest par 3s at the TPC Boston, though the ball settled 20 feet behind the cup and he narrowly missed. McIlroy followed with a beautiful swing of his own, a towering shot that drew gently and stopped 6 feet behind the cup for birdie.
McIlroy waited at the back of the green for Oosthuizen to tap in for par, held out his arm and clinched his fist and said to him, "I've got the honors." They laughed, exchanged a high-five and McIlroy told him as they headed to the 12th tee, "I feel like I've got a chance."
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