South African Louis Oosthuizen kept his cool to lead the British Open in one fell swoop after a thrilling third round which took place under bright sunshine at Royal St George’s on Saturday. Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, had gone calmly to 13 under par with a birdie on the ninth hole before two bogeys, his second and third in the tournament, interrupted his progress.
Americans Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa joined him in a three-way tie for the lead, but Oosthuizen then sank a 10-foot birdie putt in the 16th par three to return to the top of the standings and scored a 69 to finish in 12 below. “I certainly wasn’t swinging freely today, it was all over the place with my iron shots,” Oosthuizen told Sky Sports.
“The R&A was not happy with the low score and they put in pins which were very questionable, but it was difficult and I’m glad I was able to hold on.” Oosthuizen, 38, has finished second in six major championships since his triumph at St Andrews 11 years ago.
“I’m very excited, it’s a great position,” he said. THE NEAREST CHALLENGER
Morikawa emerged as Oosthuizen’s closest challenger, recovering from a poor start to collect four birdies and sign for a 68 that left him under 11 under. Spieth, bidding to lift the Claret Jug for the second time, racked up four first birdies and another in the 10th took him to 12 under.
The 27-year-old putter got cold on the last nine, however, a dropped shot in the 11th put a stop to his momentum before he bugged the last two holes of a round of 69 to finish nine under. Canadian Corey Conners clocked a sparkling 66 to reach eight under alongside American Scottie Scheffler, one ahead of Spaniard Jon Rahm, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and South African Dylan Frittelli.
US Open champion Rahm birdied three of the last nine in a fight 68. “Very good round. I played good golf. I had some really good highlights,” Rahm told reporters.
The challenge of US world number one Dustin Johnson faded with a disappointing 73 that left him four under, while compatriot Brooks Koepka struggled with an uneven 72 and the four-time major champion finished three under . Defending champion Shane Lowry made a brave 69 to come back to five under, but the Irishman admitted he was probably too far behind the leaders to retain the title.
“I’m not sure I can win from here, but the way I play I can hit six cents,” Lowry told reporters. “I’m very happy with the way I played today. It was very frustrating all day today and I’m proud of the way I fought.”
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