Louis Oosthuizen saw his lead cut to just one stroke on the final day of the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s, but the 38-year-old South African is still the bookies’ favorite to win a second Claret Jug conquer.
What is traditionally called ‘Moving Day’ proved everything but for the leaders, with the top three in the halfway stage remaining after a cozy afternoon at the Kent links, with the R&A setting the course for the winning point to prevent too far below par.
Oosthuizen, winner in 2010, took a two-stroke advantage after setting a record pace through 36 holes, but it disappeared shortly after Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa closed to make the tries pass before Oosthuizen flew 17 and led at 12 under par.
“I certainly did not swing freely,” Oosthuizen said after signing for a one-under-par 69, which includes two bogeys and three birdies. ‘I was a bit everywhere with my iron shots, but I felt like I kept the rounds together at the end. Finishing second is not that great, so I’ll send my heart out and see if I can lift the Claret Jug again. ”
Morikawa is Oosthuizen’s next challenger at 11 under after Spieth fell away with a back-to-back finish that dropped him to nine under. American Scottie Scheffler and Canada’s Corey Conners are four strokes ahead of the lead at eight under par.
Oosthuizen showed no signs of nervousness on the top nine, as he mapped seven pars and birded seven and nine to subdue 13. At the same time, Morikawa initially tended in the wrong direction, scrambling to save par from a bunker on the opening hole and his nervous start continued with a bulge after finding the sand again for the second time. The 24-year-old man dropped to seven under par, four strokes from Oosthuizen, with a thug on five before hitting on seven and eight consecutive birdies, and again on 13 and 14 he saw a grim 68.
“I do not have much experience with link golf and almost all the highlights in my head are from this week,” Morikawa said. ‘Luckily there are quite a few. Hopefully we can use the momentum of the first three days and bring it into the final round. It’s going to be a grueling 18, but I’m looking forward to it. ”
Low scores were carved when the wind dropped on Friday and organizers responded by tightening positions on day three at the Kent disc track. Jon Rahm said they were ‘some of the toughest positions I’ve ever seen’, after shooting a two-under-68 to move to seven under and within five of the lead. “You may not know it on TV, but the flags are almost always on top of a small hill,” the U.S. Open champion said. “It’s a way to defend the golf course.”
Spieth’s putter was just as hot as the late afternoon sunshine when he dropped two birdies in his first four holes and recovered at five with a bully with two more birds to take part of the lead for the first time. Even when he found trouble off the tea, the three-time big winner was at his best. He made a number of creative shots from the rough and around the edge of the green when he hit the turn in three under 32s.
The American flew the 10th to undertake 12. but it was canceled at the age of 11, although he regained some of the first place when Oosthuizen stuttered on ninth pounder. A series of presses keep Spieth in the hunt, but he sticks behind the 17th and then misses a two foot for the last to make himself work if he wants to end his great drought on Sunday.
Further on the standings, Scottish Robert MacIntyre offered the best round of the day, a five-under-65-year-old that includes a birdie-birdie finish as he reached four under the week. He is one behind Ireland’s defending champions, Shane Lowry, and leading English pair Paul Casey and Andy Sullivan, all sitting at five under par. Unless one of the latter two players breaks the track record, and others do not fall away, the host country’s 52-year-old waiting for an Englishman to lift the Claret Jug on home soil is likely to continue.
For the latest St George’s scores, visit www.theopen.com/leaderboard