AVONDALE, La. — Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel birdied six of their final eight holes Saturday to shoot a 9-under 63 and take a one-shot lead at 19-under 197 into the final round of the Zurich Classic.
The South African tandem birdied the par-3 17th with Oosthuizen’s 33-foot putt and Oosthuizen missed an eagle on the par-5 18th by 4 inches before tapping in for the lead while wearing a somewhat disgusted look because of his narrowly missed previous putt from nearly 17 feet.
Oosthuizen then allowed for a smile while fist-bumping Schwartzel in acknowledgment of a successful round in a best-ball format that included nine birdies — five by Schwartzel and four by Oosthuizen in the PGA Tour’s lone regular-season team event.
Schwartzel got the pair going when he birdied No. 4 with a nearly 58-foot putt.
The tournament will close with an alternate-shot round.
“It’s going to be tough tomorrow,” Oosthuizen said. “Anyone within four shots of the lead has got a chance with the format that it is tomorrow. … The way the wind is the whole week, I think the golf course plays very tough, especially in alternate-shot.”
In all, 17 teams were no more than four strokes back.
Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot a 63 to move into a tie for second at 18 under with Cameron Champ and Tony Finau, who shot a 67 after Finau’s tap-in birdie.
“Cam is playing great, putting great. I’m feeling a lot better over the ball today than I did the first two rounds,” Leishman said. “If I can play good, Cam keeps doing what he’s doing, I think we’ve got a good chance.”
Tied for fourth at 17 under were the teams of Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler, and Norwegians Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura, who’d shared the lead after the first and second rounds.
Ryan Palmer and Spaniard Jon Rahm, the defending champs from 2019, shot a third-round 65 to remain in contention at 15 under and tied for ninth with nine other teams.
Saturday’s action included some exceptional shots by players further back in the field, including Sam Ryder’s double-eagle from 206 yards on the par-5 second hole and Wyndham Clark’s 106-yard approach from the muddy edge of a water hazard on 16.
Clark stood in the water in bare feet with his pants rolled up and splattered virtually all of himself with mud as he sent his ball to the edge of the green, about 15 feet from the hole, from where he made par. Clark and teammate Erik van Rooyen were among the teams at 15 under.
Ryder and Doc Redman, who shot a third-round 66, were tied for 19th at 13 under.