Golf's magic number is being mentioned at the WGC-HSBC Champions going into the weekend, but five rather than 59 was the key for Louis Oosthuizen, who set a host of records at Mission Hills yesterday.
The South African has birdied every par five at the Olazabal course in his first two days except for one, the seventh yesterday. And that one he eagled on his way to a second-round 63.
Oosthuizen tied the tournament's 18-hole record since it became a World Golf Championships event to lead by five shots from compatriot Ernie Els, who later matched his 63, and Adam Scott (68).
The 2010 British Open champion also posted the lowest 36-hole score in WGC history, bettering Tiger Woods, and set the 36-hole record for the HSBC Champions, albeit all seven previous editions were held in Shanghai.
Oosthuizen has only dropped one shot, a bogey at the second yesterday, and his eagle started a five-hole, six-under-par run.
The attackable par-fives and perfect conditions have some considering a below-60 round, but Oosthuizen insisted: "I think 59 is something that when the day comes, it just happens. I'll be very surprised if I shoot 59 this week. I've just been playing really, really solid to shoot low numbers. You know, 59, you need everything to go in. But that's not even close to my thoughts."
Oosthuizen, who had an albatross at Augusta's par-five second this year on his way to second place in the Masters, added: "The par-fives, I think I can reach all of them, which makes it easy; if you're hitting it well just get yourself around the green. I really didn't make a lot of eagle putts. I was really close to the green, which led to getting up-and-down and I hit good chips on a few for some tap-ins for birdie."
Fifty-nine was certainly close to Els' thoughts after a sensational start: he birdied six of the first seven on his way to a front-nine 29. "Yeah, exactly. That number was crossing my mind," he said. "You know, I just didn't quite make the putts coming in.
"Louis is playing great obviously and other guys are playing well. But there's trouble out there. If you get a little wayward, you can pay the penalty. We've seen that."
Round-one joint leader Scott admitted the par-fives were the key as he failed to match his opening 65. "There's a good score out there, and Louis had it today. If we have good conditions like this, someone else will shoot a low score tomorrow," he said. "There's just so many par fives that are reachable, lots of chances at eagle."
The Australian, who famously blew his chance to win the British Open this year, added: "I feel like I've played so much good golf and I've got nothing to show for it, so it would be good to win this one. I've really worked hard on my game this year and for whatever reason I haven't been able to win one. It would just sum up the game of golf really."
Mickelson had 31 on his outward half and also said he felt he could go seriously low, though a double bogey at the last blotted his card. "I'll have to come out [today] and play aggressive. I'll have to get a hot round. [A low score] is out there."
Prom Meesawat of Thailand is the leading Asian, at seven under after adding a 70 to his opening 67, while local favourite Wu Ashun is one shot further back after also shooting 70.